Lentils, cheap, fast, healthy, and hardy enough for an army. Add to bulgur wheat (de-branned whole wheat) and you have my moujadara power dinner. I like to make it on the weekends and eat it for dinner during the week. Lentils are versatile, and they buddy up to vegetables and grains without causing any trouble.
Growing up we would have moujadara made with rice. Cook the lentils for 30 minute, add the rice, cook another 30 minutes. But if your lentils were fresher, then they go limp, and if your rice is stale then it turns stays hard. Its a fine balance, and I often burn both ingredients regardless. On the other hand bulgar, has 75% fewer calories then both white and brown rice, more fiber, and only a little less protein. Bulgar brings a nutty taste to the pot with a fluffy hard to ruin texture. Its parboiled, so you slip it in towards the end. No special timing rituals.
Moujadara with Bulgar
1 1/2 cup lentils, rinsed
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup bulgar
1 large onion, sliced into half moons
1 tsp olive oil
1 tblsp whole cumin seeds (or 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin)
1/8 tsp fresh nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste
Fill a stock pot with roughly 2 quarts water. Add the lentils and the next 4 ingredients, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Check the lentils to see see if they are tender. I can often tell from stirring with a wood spoon. If you can feel the lentils bumping against the spoon they need more time. Try 10 minutes. If the spoon moves smoothly they are ready or very close. The ultimate test is to taste the lentils. They should be soft, just past al dente. Add the bulgar wheat, and turn the heat off, let sit for 5-10 minutes before draining into a colander. Return the lentils and bulgar to the stock pot.
In a skillet heat cumin seeds over low heat. Shake the pan every 4 minutes until the seeds are dark brown. Do not let the pan smoke. Grind in a spice grinder to make a fine powder. Nothing beats the flavor of fresh ground cumin, and it compliments the lentils just so!
In the same skillet add the sliced onion and 1 tsp of olive oil with a pinch of salt. Cook over medium, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.
Add the ground cumin, nutmeg, and cayenne to the drained lentils and bulgar. Finish with salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste. I often use between 1 and 2 tablespoons of oil. To much olive oil can make the entire mix pastey. Serve with the sauteed onions on top. A dollop of yogurt is a great partner, especially whole fat yogurt. After a day or three of the lentils being in the fridge I find need to add some water to them when I reheat them. The moujadara should be good for 5 days.
Pronounce it this way: "moo-jah-dare-ah."