Lentils are very used throughout South Asia, the Mediterranean regions and West Asia. They are frequently combined with rice, which has a similar cooking time. “A lentil and rice dish is referred to in western Asia as mujaddara or mejadra”. In Italy – and also in Brazil – “eating lentils on New Year’s Eve traditionally symbolizes the hope for a prosperous new year, most likely because of their round, coin-like form”. Superstition or not, it makes a great dish for your NYE, doesn’t it?
Rice and Lentils
- 1 cup lentils
– 1/2 cup white rice
– 3 cups cold water
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– 3-4 large onions sliced (very thin, I used the processor)
– 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
– Salt and black pepper to taste
– A pinch of nutmeg
– Olive oil
Place the lentils in a container covering the grains with cold water. Leave them to soak overnight. On the day of preparation, saute the chopped onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the drained lentils and saute it all for about 3 minutes. Add the spices (cinnamon, cumin, salt, pepper and nutmeg) and the washed and drained rice. Saute it for another 3 minutes or so, and then add the 3 cups of cold water. When boiling, lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook until the water dries.
Meanwhile, prepare the golden onion. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and add the sliced onions. Fry them on low heat, stirring constantly until they are and golden.
At serving time, place the golden onions over rice with lentils and enjoy it!
Tip: You can substitute cinnamon and nutmeg for a Syrian mixture of spices. As this mixture will also contain black pepper, check (according to your taste) the need to add more black pepper to your dish.