Luckily I have a holiday coming up - more details later! - and I am trying to let the anticipation breathe some life into me. It's working, a little.
Another thing that works? This dish. It is the perfect thing to make when you want something simple and unfussy that's still flavorful and filling. It's comforting and homemade, and there will be leftovers so you won't have to think about the next day's meal. Best of all, I can make this on autopilot - and everyone needs a few dishes like that in their repertoire, especially when inspiration is elusive.
I am not going to pretend that this is the definitive version of mujaddara - the Middle Eastern lentils and rice dishes has many, many variations depending upon the country and region of its origin. Some versions call for a method that yields a fluffy rice; others have you practically turn it into pudding. Mine is somewhere in between - in this dish, I like the rice to be just shy of sticky, so I cook the lentils and the rice together, giving the pot a gentle stir every so often. Also this saves time and dish washing, perfect for my lazy state of mind these days.
Mujaddara, My Way
3 medium yellow onions, sliced very thinly
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup green lentils
1 cup jasmine rice
3 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock
1 heaping teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 heaping teaspoon hot paprika
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch all spice
salt, to taste
For the yogurt:
2 cups Greek yogurt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon sumac
dash of salt
drizzle olive oil
In a sautoir, saute the onions in olive oil and a dash of salt over medium low heat until caramelized. Stir occasionally but not too often. It will take up to an hour for the onions to caramelize. Meanwhile, combine the rice, lentils, water or broth and spices in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender. Check occasionally to see if you need to add more liquid, and stir gently. Don't add salt until the end or the lentil will get tough. Add more spices to taste.
For the yogurt, combine all ingredients, stir, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
When the lentil and rice are finished, stir in all but a few tablespoons of the onions, along with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil . Salt to taste - be bold with the salt! To serve, garnish with the yogurt, reserved caramelized onions, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of sumac.
There. It won't change the world or revolutionize cooking as we know it, but sometimes, simple is all I need.