At the moment, I feel like I don't have any money, won't ever have any money and can't remember what money looks like.
Peasant food beckons in times of hardship. This really old Arabic dish of mixed rice, lentils and onions is a thrifty little tumble, I haven't worked out how much a bowl costs, but I'm sure it's well under a quid. It may sound bland but it's surprisingly flavourful. That's the caramelised onions doing their job. Caramelised onions are one of the best culinary secret weapons out there. Put a dollop of minty yoghurt and a handful of toasted walnuts over the top (if you're feeling particularly opulent) and you have yourself a complete meal. I can't think of anything it wouldn't go with, but know it would be particularly brilliant with chicken, halloumi or grilled aubergine.
The recipe below is if you're making it from scratch, but it makes sense to make this when you have leftover rice or lentils.
Mujaddara (makes four main meals worth)
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 35 mins (unless you're using leftover rice and lentils)
You will need:
- 200g puy lentils (or you could use those ones that are already cooked in a packet)
- 1 bay leaf
- 150g basmati rice
- a handful of sultanas
- a big knob of butter
- sunflower oil
- 3 white onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- a dollop of yoghurt
- fresh mint, shredded
- a handful of walnuts, toasted (or any nuts would be nice actually)
- Cover the lentils with cold water and bring to the boil (with the bay leaf) and simmer for 15-20 mins until they are just cooked but still have bite.
- In the meantime, place the rice in a pan with 360ml cold water. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low, put a lid on and simmer for 20 mins. You should end up with perfect rice. Throw in the sultanas once it's cooked, so they plump up a little.
- In a frying pan, melt the butter and sunflower oil. Add the sliced onions, with a big pinch of salt and sugar and cook slowly for 20-25 mins. Make sure they don't stick, but soften.
- Drain the lentils and fluff the rice with a fork. Leave to cool a little.
- Add the cumin and cinnamon to the onions and turn up the heat to colour them for 10 mins or so. Add the lentils and rice and mix together gently.
- Mix the yoghurt with the mint. Serve in a nice bowl, with a dollop of yoghurt on top and toasted walnuts scattered over.