Cyprus’ proximity to the Middle East favours and aids the inter-mingling of each others recipes. In fact, a lot of Cypriot recipes bear more in common with recipes from the Middle East than Greece! This homely peasant dish of lentils and rice with caramelised onions is also called ‘Mujendra’ in Cyprus, and ‘Mujadarah’ or ‘mejadra’ in the Middle East. So you can see, even the names are similar. Apart from tasting delicious and being an inexpensive meal, lentils and rice provide a low-fat, complete protein meal chock-full of Fibre, iron and other minerals.
We really enjoy this in our family, it’s one of those meals that everyone will eat willingly, wink, wink.
No arm twisting involved.
Lentils and rice with caramelised onions
2 measuring cups of green lentils
1 measuring cup of long grain rice
1 large onion, halved and finely sliced
2 tbsp olive oil (for frying onion)
1. Rinse the lentils, place in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer until almost, but not quite, cooked.
2. Add more water if needed, so that the lentils are well covered, then add the washed rice. At this stage the water should cover both the lentils and rice, so add more if needed.
3. Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer, and get on with frying the onions.
4. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the onions and fry over a medium-high heat until they are caramelised, very well browned.
Don’t chicken out at this stage and leave them pale, they need to be really dark (but not burnt, obviously!) as this is what adds the lovely, sweet flavour to the finished dish.
5. Add the onions to the almost cooked lentils and rice, add salt at this stage too.
5. By the time the rice and lentils are tender, the water should have been completely absorbed.
6. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and black olives. Delicious!