I’ve been slowly working my way through Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. I adored the television series and have been practically drooling over each page of the book. The recipes are quite easy, and thankfully my pantry hoarding has meant I have all the ingredients and spices always on hand.
I had a few girlfriends over for dinner a few weeks back, and needed a gluten free side to pair with my Spiced Lemon Yoghurt Chicken. I quickly flipped through Jerusalem and settled on Mejadra, “an ancient dish, popular throughout the Arab world...”
The crunch of the cashews, sweet oiliness of the onion and perfect balance of the spices makes Mejadra a hero dish. It really is a star, and something I think would be great cold in summer with finely sliced fennel and cucumber, dried cranberries and a dollop of natural yoghurt. Ottolenghi describes this dish as the ‘best comfort food’. I can see why.
Mejadra- Serves 6
- 200g of basmati rice
- 4 brown onions, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups of brown lentils (I used split peas and kidney beans that were soaked and cooked)
- 350mL of filtered water
- 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of coriander seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground tumeric
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice
- 1 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 cup of cashews
- olive oil for cooking
- handful of coriander leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- On high heat, brown off your sliced onions, then set aside (Ottolenghi deep fries his, but I don’t want to use that much oil).
- Dry roast your cumin, coriander seeds and cinnamon. Remove from the heat when fragrant, then grind in a spice grinder or with a pestle and mortar.
- Rinse your rice (to remove excess starch), then place in a pot on medium heat with your fresh ground spices, tumeric, allspice and lentils. Add a generous glug of olive oil and stir.
- Add your water, bring to the boil, place on a lid, then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Within 10 minutes, your rice should be ready. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve, plate your rice with the onions on top, scattered with cashews (I roasted mine for a minute in a dry skillet), and coriander leaves. Enjoy!