Mejadra is a fragrant Middle Eastern rice pilaf that is SO GOOD you can – and will want to – eat it on its own!
Mejadra is an ancient dish that is hugely popular throughout the Arab world. it’s a fragrant aromatic spiced rice (but not spicy) combined with sweet crunchy onion. You make your own fried onion in the authentic version, and it’s worth the effort when you have time on your hands. But if you don’t have time, a near perfect substitute is store bought crunchy Fried Shallots which nowadays you can purchase from the Asian section of most grocery stores. I really think it tastes almost as good!
Because this rice has such a wonderful flavour in itself, you can make a complete meal by serving just a simple piece of grilled fish or other protein, or even vegetables on the side. A dollop of yoghurt, a sprinkle of herbs and dinner is served!
Enjoy! – Nagi x
PS I served Mejadra on the side of Chicken Shawarma which I also published today. A beautiful pairing of flavours!
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 cup basmati rice (or long grain)
- 1 1/4 cup / 315 ml water (see notes)
- 400g / 14 oz canned brown lentils, drained (1 can) , drained
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- 3 large or 4 small onions , very finely sliced
- 1 cup / 250 ml vegetable or sunflower oil
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add about 1/3 of the onions and cook for 5 minutes until golden and crispy. Drain on paper towels.
Repeat with remaining onions, in two batches.
Put the olive oil, cumin seeds and coriander in a saucepan over medium heat.
Cook for a couple of minutes until the spices are fragrant.
Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil and spices.
Add the water and lentils.
While it comes to boil, add all the other spices, salt and pepper.
When it comes to a boil, turn it down to medium-low, cover with lid and let cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until all the liquid has mostly been absorbed.
Remove from heat and let it rest for 10 minutes - during this time, any residual liquid will absorb.
Fluff rice with a from and adjust the seasoning with more salt if you wish.
Just prior to serving, stir through most of the onions and top with remainder. Sprinkle with chopped coriander if desired. Best served warm.
1. Different rices and brands require different ratios of rice to water. Typically for long grain and basmati rice it is 1 cup of rice to 1 1/2 cups of water, but you should check the package instructions. Whatever the water quantity is, reduce it by 1/4 cup. This is because this recipe uses canned lentils which, although you drain it, adds to the liquid while cooking. If you do not reduce the quantity of water, the rice turns out wetter than it should.
2. ALTERNATIVE: Use fried shallots / onions sold in jars in the Asian section of the supermarket. They are crunchy, salty and oily, so they serve the same purpose and taste the same. This is what I usually use. They are addictive!
Originally published May 2014, republished with fresh new photos in January 2017.
LIFE OF DOZER
Wondering what I’m doing up here instead of down there throwing sand for him to chase…..