If you grew up in a Lebanese family like me, this dish would be your all time favourite; I have no doubt about that! The smell of caramelized onions in your kitchen will always bring you back in time, to those meatless Fridays and Wednesdays, or to the Lent period, observed by most Christians in Lebanon.
Mdardara, also known as mjaddara, is lentil and rice, cooked together with olive oil, salt and pepper, and garnished with caramelized onions. Serve it with a crisp mixed salad tossed in a lemony garlicky dressing, like Fattoush, for instance, and you will be hooked forever.
You can use green or brown lentils, and long-grain white rice to prepare your mdardara. The cooking time for the lentils might vary depending on the quality of the lentils; I have noticed that the lentils used in Lebanon require more time (hence a bit more water) to become tender, compared to the lentils we have here in Germany. As for the rice, I opted for Parboiled rice to avoid getting a mushy result. A perfect mdardara has fluffy rice and lentils, and does not stick together.
Make it just once, and you will be craving this hearty and simple dish very often.
Mdardara – Lentils and Rice with Caramelised Onions
- 200 g green lentils picked and rinsed several times, drained
- 900 ml cold water
- 400 g onions peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced into half-moon shapes
- 125 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 150 g Parboiled rice rinsed and drained
- 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Add the lentils and water to a medium pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Then turn the heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes. The lentils should be half-cooked at this point.
- In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, and sauté the onions, for about 15 minutes, or until they become brown and caramelized, stirring often. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon onto a plate. Set the pan with the oil aside for later use.
- Add the rice, oil, salt and pepper to the lentils. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.