Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Rainy Day Comfort Food: Lebanese Mdardara, a Pot of Tea, and Robert Redford

My umbrella actually turned inside-out in the wind today. First time ever. So I arrived home from Mother's Day shopping soaked to the bone and freezing.

Home is not much drier. My ceiling and windows are leaking again and my kitchen floor is an inch-deep in water from the leaking freezer, which has stopped freezing.

Obviously, it's time for some warm comfort food, a pot of tea, and a Robert Redford movie.

So I made Mdardara. This is one of my favorite comfort foods: warm, slow-cooked rice and lentils with soft and fragrant onions.

I've seen all sorts of variations on this recipe. This one has cumin, my favorite spice.

Lebanese Mdardara
Makes enough for 5

1 cup red lentils
2 cups rice
3 cups water
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt (I actually use quite a bit more, but best to start slow)
1 onion, sliced into rings
1/2 cup olive oil

Simmer the lentils and water over medium heat for about 30 minutes until they're soft and mushy.

Fry the onions in the olive oil until they turn golden, then add them to the lentils. Add the rice, salt, cumin, and let everything simmer for 25 minutes. If the water is all absorbed before the rice is finished cooking, add some more water. Serve warm, on a stormy day, in conjunction with a Robert Redford film.


cin said...

we pronouce this as m'jadra...it is comfort food

Jennifer said...

Alright, I just tried to make this recipe and it went horribly awry. Is it really just three cups of water? Do you really at the onions or wait until the rice is done cooking?

Curiosity Killed the Cook said...

Hmm - how strange - what in particular went wrong?

You should use about 3 cups of water, but if the lentils start sticking to the bottom of the pan, then definitely add a bit more water. You don't want the lentils to burn, and they all soak up different amounts of water depending on the temperature.

You should wait until the rice is done cooking, then add the onions - but that really shouldn't make much of a difference.

Was the taste the problem or the texture? Did it burn? I'm just trying to get a sense of what went wrong. I hope that it turns out better for you next time! It's one of my favorite dishes . . .

Jennifer said...

The lentils burned, I think next time I will add five cups of water, the lentils I bought sucked up the water.