Megadarra (me-ga-DAR-ra) is immensely popular in Egypt, as it is in the rest of the Arab world. (Elsewhere, the dish is pronounced mu-jah-DRA.) It's served either warm or at room temperature as a mezze, or appetizer, often accompanied by yogurt. Large quanities of dark caramelized onions are the best part.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
7 cups vertically sliced onion
4 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups lentils
1 1/4 cups long-grain rice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
How to Make It
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion; cover and cook 15 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally. Uncover and increase heat to medium; cook 25 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Keep warm.
While onion cooks, bring 4 1/2 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add lentils; cook 20 minutes or until tender. Stir in 1/2 cup caramelized onion, rice, salt, and pepper. Cover, and cook 25 minutes or until lentils and rice are tender. Spoon lentil mixture into a shallow dish; top with remaining onion. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over lentils.
I really wanted to like this - I love lentils, and enjoy simple foods like this, they are very comforting. It just didnt quite do it. It isn't bad, it just isn't all that good. I don't think we'll make it through the abundant leftovers before we get sick of it and throw the rest out. I'll likely try this one more time and tinker with some flavorings. I also don't think I cooked the lentils long enough, they weren't very tender. I think I'd like something more in the texture of dal, and serve over the rice, not cooked with it. I did add some cumin, cardamom, and garlic, but will add a lot more if I try it again. Seems like such a simple, inexpensive, homey, healthy filling dish, if I can just get a little more flavor and better texture.
Traditional mjadara also includes cardamom, pinch of ground cinnamon, and ground cumin. Those ingredients will kick up the flavor of the dish and prevent the mjadara from being bland. Without some spices, this is pretty tasteless.
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