I always take any chance I get to eat with my friend Wael’s family. Even their regular weekday dinners are massive feasts. There’s usually smoky baba ghanoush, hummus, tabbouleh, fattoush, lentil dishes, and lots of pita to scoop it all up–all made from scratch of course. Wael makes fun of me for still talking about this dinner we had at his sister’s house in New Jersey a few summers ago. It was one of the best meals of my life but for them it was just another Sunday night. Thanksgiving at the Abifaker house is a whole other story–the amount of American and Arabic dishes covering the table is rivaled only by my Oma’s Christmas smorgasbord.
Last October, Wael got in a terrible car accident and I quickly learned that the Lebanese answer a crisis with lots and lots of food and chocolate. The hospital room was like a little cafeteria–everyday we visitors were treated to a new middle eastern delicacy. And that was when I became obsessed with Mujadarrah.
Mujadarrah is the best kind of dish: simple and reeeediculously good-tasting. I managed to completely mess it up when I made it today by using precooked lentils. The texture of mujadarrah is supposed to be kind of like guacamole, but today mine came out more like just beans and rice. Because I used precooked lentils instead of boiling dry ones, there was no lentil slime to mix with the rice and onions which creates a delightfully mushy consistency. Today I added some guacamole I had laying around to try to fudge the texture.
So go! Make it! Eat it! Luvvvv it! Here is the recipe, straight from Mrs. Abifaker herself. (There is also a recipe for it in Veganomicon but c’mon now, would you rather have this middle eastern dish from two chicas from Queens or from a true Lebanese cook?)
Get Wael Soon Mujadarrah
1 cup lentils
1/2 cup rice
3-4 tbs of oil (your choice)
3 cups water
Heat the lentils in water until they boil. Once they have boiled add the rice and allow to boil. While the other stuff is boiling, chop up the onion and sauté it in a pan with the oil until they brown. Add the onions to the rice and lentils and set the heat to low and simmer. Stir occasionally (the more you stir the creamier it will be). Add more water if you feel the rice and lentils are not soft enough. Once it’s at your desired texture,salt to your liking and serve.
And in case you are wondering, Wael is doing much better now. Here he is looking super cute back in the fall when he was still in his wheelchair. I can’t wait for that bugger to get his little tush back to California!!!