Barley & Lentil Mejadra

Barley & Lentil Mejadra

by Sarah Cotterell and Aitana Infante

Mejadra - or Mujaddara - is a simple but perfect store cupboard combination of lentils, rice or another grain, spices and crispy onions. You can find subtle variations across the Middle East but each is equally comforting and delicious.

Mejadra tastes especially good on a cold evening, when the sweet aroma of frying onions sets your tummy rumbling. This version of mejadra uses Hodmedod's Pilau Mix #2 in which the nutty emmer grains make a delicious British-grown substitute for the more usual rice, alongside our earthy olive green lentils.

Try serving with steamed greens drizzled with tahini, lemon, olive oil and sea salt. The flavour of the grains becomes even tastier after a few days, so don’t be afraid to make a big batch. Simply reheat it in a frying pan with a little olive oil.

Read the recipe through before you start, as there are a few different parts to the dish which you can prepare at the same time.

Serves 5 to 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • 500g Pilau mix #2
  • ½ tbsp Allspice
  • ½ tbsp Cardamom Pods
  • ½ tbsp Turmeric Powder
  • ½ tbsp Cumin Seeds
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
For the shallots
  • 3 to 4 Shallots, peeled & sliced into thick half-moons
  • Good quality Vegetable Oil
For the seasoning and toppings
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
  • A small bunch of Fresh Dill, roughly chopped
  • A small bunch of Fresh Coriander, roughly chopped
  • Green Chilli, thinly sliced (optional)

Method

For the pilau mix
  1. If you have a rice cooker, this is the easiest way to cook the grains. Measure the volume of pilau mix in a measuring jug and pour them into the rice cooker. Add the spices, salt and a generous glug of olive oil. Cover everything with double the volume of cold water to grains, give it a good stir and switch on the cooking mode.
  2. If you don’t have a rice cooker, you’ll need a heavy-bottomed pan with a tight-fitting lid. Cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil, followed by the pilau mix and the spices and salt. Mix well and add 1 litre of cold water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat to a simmer and pop on the lid. It will take around 35-40 minutes to cook. Once the water has evaporated and the grains are cooked, turn off the heat and let them sit with the lid on for 10 minutes.
  3. Open the rice cooker or remove the lid from your pan to let the steam off. Then add a generous pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of each apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Mix gently, ideally with a wooden fork, so as not to break the grains.
For the shallots
  1. In a small heavy-bottomed frying pan, heat about 2cm deep of vegetable oil. Once hot, add the shallots and let them sizzle in the oil, stirring from time to time but making sure you keep an eye on them, as they can easily burn.
  2. Once golden and crispy, use a slotted spoon to remove the shallots, draining as much oil as possible. Sprinkle with salt and mix well. Keep the oil for frying one more time or recycle it appropriately.
To serve 
  1. When ready to serve, mix most of the herbs and the crispy shallots through the pilau mix. Have a taste, adjusting the salt, olive oil or vinegar as needed.
  2. Spoon onto plates and top with the remaining herbs, crispy shallots and chilli if using for extra spice.



Sarah Cotterell and Aitana Infante
Sarah Cotterell and Aitana Infante

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