I love Mediterranean foods. I feel at home with these foods. Indian cuisine shares a lot of common spices and ingredients with it. I had a Lebanese colleague and I was surprised to know that he knows most of the spices I used to talk about which he said is a staple of his mother's pantry. I love this rice and lentil pilaf traditionally known as M'Judra. I make it with all different lentils that I use in my kitchen, although I am not so sure if that can be done traditionally. Yes, it demands a little more oil (okay, a lot more) than I usually use in my cooking, but, come on, its December.
Lentil - 1 cup ( I used masoor, the orange lentil, in this case. I also often use green variety of it.)
Rice - 3/4 cup ( I used basmati)
Onions - 4 Red, medium, finely chopped
Bay leaf - 1 small
Cardamoms - 4-5
Cloves - 3-4
Cinnamon - 1 inch stick
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Red chilli - 1, or according to your heat tolerance
Cumin powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Oil - A whole lot, okay maybe 1/2 cup to start with.
Wash the rice and soak it in cold water. Wash the lentils separately and keep it soaked. Soak both of them for 15 minutes or so.
In a pan, temper 1 tablespoon oil with a dried red chilli, and bay leaf.
Wait a minute and add the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. Saute for a minute or till the aroma comes out.
Add the cumin seeds and saute for another two minutes.
Add remaining chopped onions and saute it till it becomes translucent. Now add the lentils to it and mix well.
Add salt, turmeric and cumin powder to it, mix well and add 1 and 1/2 cup warm water to it. Close the lid and make it boil for about 10-15 minutes.
The lentils should be almost cooked by now. Add the rice to it and give it a quick mix. Add a little more water if required and cover the lid and cook for another 8-10 minutes.
While the lentil is cooking, heat enough oil till it bubbles. Turn the heat to medium to low and add the 80% of chopped onions to it. Now, this will test your patience. I have very little of it and easily gets annoyed with this step. Start frying it, occasionally turning up the heat and again turning it down. Goal is to make the onions crispy fried, maybe about 15 minutes. Do not walk away, because the moment you do, they starts to get burned. Yes, its sort of jinxed.
Once they are fried, put them on tissue paper to drain excess oil and sprinkle them immediately with salt. I used black salt here.
After the rice/lentil gets cooked, serve them with a generous amount of fried onions on the top.
You can eat it like this or serve with yogurt mixed or with kebabs as I have done.
For the kebabs, you need
Raw Banana - 1 medium size
Potato - 1 medium
Onions - 1 medium, chopped
Green chilli - 1 or more, finely chopped
Flour - 1 tablespoon
Salt to taste
Cut the raw banana and potato in half and boil it for 10 minutes. Cool it off completely to take out the peel, otherwise it may cause burn.
Mash them with a masher or your hand as fine possible. It will still remain coarse and thats what I like.
Add onions, chillies, salt to it and mix well.
Add flour to it, otherwise it is sticky. Make it into patties in size of your choice.
Serve them with the pilaf or eat them up on their own.
I am sending this to this month's My Legume Love Affair # 66, hosted this month by Simona of Briciole. This event was started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook and is now being hosted by Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen.