Saturday, August 23, 2008

Get Wael Soon Mujadarrah

I always take any chance I get to eat with my friend Wael's family. Even their regular weekday dinners are massive feasts. There's usually smoky baba ghanoush, hummus, tabbouleh, fattoush, lentil dishes, and lots of pita to scoop it all up--all made from scratch of course. Wael makes fun of me for still talking about this dinner we had at his sister's house in New Jersey a few summers ago. It was one of the best meals of my life but for them it was just another Sunday night. Thanksgiving at the Abifaker house is a whole other story--the amount of American and Arabic dishes covering the table is rivaled only by my Oma's Christmas smorgasbord.

Last October, Wael got in a terrible car accident and I quickly learned that the Lebanese answer a crisis with lots and lots of food and chocolate. The hospital room was like a little cafeteria--everyday we visitors were treated to a new middle eastern delicacy. And that was when I became obsessed with Mujadarrah.

Mujadarrah is the best kind of dish: simple and reeeediculously good-tasting. I managed to completely mess it up when I made it today by using precooked lentils. The texture of mujadarrah is supposed to be kind of like guacamole, but today mine came out more like just beans and rice. Because I used precooked lentils instead of boiling dry ones, there was no lentil slime to mix with the rice and onions which creates a delightfully mushy consistency. Today I added some guacamole I had laying around to try to fudge the texture.

So go! Make it! Eat it! Luvvvv it! Here is the recipe, straight from Mrs. Abifaker herself. (There is also a recipe for it in Veganomicon but c'mon now, would you rather have this middle eastern dish from two chicas from Queens or from a true Lebanese cook?)

Get Wael Soon Mujadarrah

1 cup lentils
1 onion
1/2 cup rice
3-4 tbs of oil (your choice)
3 cups water

Heat the lentils in water until they boil. Once they have boiled add the rice and allow to boil. While the other stuff is boiling, chop up the onion and sauté it in a pan with the oil until they brown. Add the onions to the rice and lentils and set the heat to low and simmer. Stir occasionally (the more you stir the creamier it will be). Add more water if you feel the rice and lentils are not soft enough. Once it's at your desired texture,salt to your liking and serve.

And in case you are wondering, Wael is doing much better now. Here he is looking super cute back in the fall when he was still in his wheelchair. I can't wait for that bugger to get his little tush back to California!!!


Lenora said...

Sounds YUMMY... fun commentary.
Thanks for posting!

Destiny's Vegan Kitchen said...

What a sweet post! I'm glad your friend is doing much better. I'll have to try mujadarrah in his honor.

Anonymous said...

wow i wish i had a friend like wael! all that food sounds AMAZING. so glad he is doing better.

VeganCowGirl said...

Interesting recipe! I will totally try this. I don't think I have ever even seen Mujadarrah on any of the menus I have read....must be going to the wrong restaurants.

The Food Monster said...

That doesn't sound appetizing to me, but all the other dishes do, I can't wait to have a meal at the Abifaker household. Get Better soon Wael!

-The Food Monster

PS Wael, is also a killer acoustic guitar/vocal serenader.

Kirby! said...

this looks good, but i'm confused. is this different from a dish of lentils? what about it exactly makes it mujadarrah and not just lentils?

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

"...would you rather have this middle eastern dish from two chicas from Queens or from a true Lebanese cook?"

Oh how I can relate to this statement!!! While cookbooks are good for some things, I love recipes "from the source" whenever it's possible!!


Liz (¡Yo Soy!) said...

vegancowgirl--I don't think I've ever seen mujadarrah on a menu either, even at the super hole-in-the-wall Lebanese joints I go to with Wael. I think it would be sort of like having oatmeal on a menu. It's more of a thing you make at home than something you would want to pay more than 4 bucks for.

thefoodmonster--you are a kook!
love, your pal, liz.

kirby--yeah the picture here makes it looks just like lentils because I messed it all up using the precooked kind. what makes Mujadarrah different from just plain lentils is that when you cook it for so long with the rice and onions, it sort of breaks down and turns into a consistency similar to mashed potatoes.

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

This sounds so tasty! And such a nice story too.

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