Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mejadra–very moorish…

Strangely I come across this recipe almost three years to tge day that it appeared in the Observer. I imagine most of west london has already moved on, but more fool them as it’s a particularly suitable dish for this time of year when you start to think about needing something warming to fight of the first wave of colds sweeping the city.

So – better late than never….

Bittersweet fried onions cooked with sweet spices and topped with yoghurt make a meal to remember

Mejadra recipePhotograph: Colin Campbell for the Guardian

Yotam Ottolenghi  -  Serves four

250ml sunflower oil
4 medium onions, thinly sliced
250g green or brown lentils
2 tsp cumin seeds
1½ tbsp coriander seeds
200g basmati rice
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp ground turmeric
1½ tsp ground allspice
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
Salt and black pepper
350ml water

Heat the sunflower oil in a medium-size heavy-based saucepan. When very hot, carefully add a third of the sliced onion. Fry for five to seven minutes, stirring occasionally with a slotted spoon, until the onion takes on a nice, golden-brown colour and turns crispy. Use the spoon to transfer the onion to a colander and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with two more batches of onion.

I did this in a wok, which in hindsight was a little dangerous even on a stand, but did mean i used a little less oil. Don’t be tempted to shallow fry the onions as it takes forever and they won’t be as crisp

Meanwhile, put the lentils in a small saucepan, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the lentils have softened but still have a little bite. Drain into a colander.

Wipe clean the saucepan in which you fried the onion and drop in the cumin and coriander seeds. Place over a medium heat and toast the seeds for a minute or two, until they release those distinctive aromas. Add the rice, olive oil, turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, sugar, half a teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Stir to coat the rice with oil, then add the cooked lentils and water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on very low heat for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat, lift off the lid and cover the pan with a clean tea towel. Seal tightly with the lid and set aside for 10 minutes. Finally, tip the rice and lentils into a large mixing bowl. Add half the fried onion and stir gently with a fork. Pile up in a shallow serving bowl and top with the rest of the onion.

Serve with plain yoghurt or some tzatziki. Some fiery chili sauce on the other side is also very good for a hot  / cold / soothing contrast.

Add grilled fish / meats and salad for more of a complete dinner.

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