Sephardic Megedarra with Garlicky Brown Rice Pilaf

By • December 26, 2010 • 13 Comments

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Author Notes: Megedarra is a Middle Eastern staple of savory rice and lentils. My version is based on a recipe by Gilda Angel from her book, Sephardic Holiday Cooking, and my standard garlicky brown rice pilaf is based on a Brazilian way of preparing rice I learned from my babysitter years ago. Instead of brown lentils, I use French green or black beluga lentils since I like their flavor and firmness. A tangle of sauteed onions and shallots, a dollop of yogurt, and some minced scallions garnish the dish. It can be cooked as a meatless main dish, or served as a side. I cook the components separately to maintain the distinct flavors of each. Note that the technique for cooking the brown rice ensures that it will be non-gloppy! - creamteacreamtea

Food52 Review: The lentil megedarra makes for an ideal comfort food, even for someone unfamiliar with Middle Eastern cuisine. The lentils are cooked soft and the sautéed alliums lend support to its nutty meaty character without overpowering it. The well-sauteed shallot/onion mix add those little morsels of caramelized taste complemented by the bites of the fresh ground peppercorn. The garlicky characteristic in the rice is toned down due to the long cooking time, resulting in little bites of sweetness from the garlic. Panfusine

Serves 6 as a main or 8 as a side dish

Garlicky Brown Rice Pilaf

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 fresh bay leaves, slightly torn and bruised
  • 3 cups short grain brown rice
  • More than enough water to cover rice (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  1. Heat plenty of water in a kettle until boiling. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil until hot but not smoking over medium high heat. Add garlic and bay leaves, and saute until fragrant and bubbly. Add rice, stirring until rice appears "tweedy." Add boiling water -- it should be about one "finger joint" above the level of the rice. Important note: Stand back when adding boiling water! If the rice kernels are very hot and your flame is a little higher than normal, it may bubble up furiously -- as it did for me today. Stir in salt (be careful to avert face), then raise heat to high. At this time, set a timer for 40 minutes, and boil until the water evaporates to the level of rice, about 10 minutes. (A small pool of olive oil and garlic will migrate to the center of the rice -- this is okay.) Cover pan, lower heat to lowest setting and simmer for remainder of the time (about 30 minutes). Rice should be tender and water absorbed. Remove and discard bay leaves, then stir to distribute garlic bits and fluff slightly.

Lentils with sautéed onions and shallots

  • 2 cups French green or black beluga lentils
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium to large onions, halved lengthwise
  • 1 to 3 large shallots, thinly sliced vertically (the more the better)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 dash freshly ground pepper
  • Plain or goat's milk yogurt, for garnish
  • Sliced scallions, for garnish
  1. Sort and rinse lentils, draining excess water. Dice one onion half and thinly slice the rest. In a 2-quart saucepan, sauté the minced onion and about a clove's worth of the minced garlic until fragrant. Add the water and the lentils and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, adding salt to taste during the last 5 minutes of cooking, until everything is tender and most of the water has been absorbed (I like mine just barely soupy).
  2. While lentils are simmering, heat oil in a large, heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and shallots and stir until slightly softened. Add garlic and stir, sautéing until garlic is fragrant and the onion mixture is translucent and starting to brown at the edges. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper to taste -- a little more than you think you need. Continue to sauté until nicely browned, adjusting heat as necessary. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In individual bowls, layer rice and lentils. Garnish with the sautéed onion mixture, yogurt, and scallions.
Jump to Comments (13)

Tags: kid-friendly, kosher, meatless, mujaddara, savory

Comments (13) Questions (1)

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7 days ago MizF

Never saw a recipe asking for fresh bay leaves before, so I did some web research. http://www.seriouseats... says "in this country, dried bay leaves are imported (generally from Turkey) and fresh bay leaves come from California, almost universally. And in fact, the two types of bay leaves are not even directly related. Fresh California bay leaves come from a tree that has a decidedly more potent eucalyptus flavor that can easily dominate a dish if you're not careful, while Turkish bay is much milder and more nuanced. In fact, bay leaves are the one case where I'd advocate against ever using fresh, unless you know what you're getting into." So is it the spicier California bay that you recommend for this recipe?

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7 days ago creamtea

Now, I recommend true (Turkish) bay, which are now much more available in markets than previously. On the East coast, Fairway and Whole Foods often stock them in the produce section (often in small rectangular plastic "clamshell" containers. I have tried the eucalyptus-like California bay as well, but it is decidedly different.

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7 days ago creamtea

I meant to type "No" not "Now."

Ashley

10 months ago Ashley Marie

I was looking for a recipe that would fill my weekly vegetarian dinner slot WITHOUT me having to run out for a million different ingredients - I can't wait to make this recipe this week! It all sounds so delicious!! I'll be serving it with some oven-roasted heirloom carrots and maybe a slice or two of avocado.

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8 months ago creamtea

Hope you like it, Ashley Marie.

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12 months ago Valentina Solfrini

I can't wait to try this! I'm sure the addition of some spices would make sense in here. Thanks for sharing!

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12 months ago creamtea

I hope you do try it, Valentina. Let me know how your version works out.

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about 1 year ago Aliwaks

I made something very similar to this a few weeks ago, and we turned the leftovers into the best veggie burgers! I had about 3 cups left over ...blended about a cup with an egg and some grated carrots + fresh parsley & cilantro... added that to the other 2 cups mixed it up, made into patties, and sauteed them in olive oil.... fab in a pita w some Zhug a drizzle of yoghurt & pickles

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about 1 year ago creamtea

mmmm, I have done that with leftover chickpea stew, must try with megedarra next time!

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about 1 year ago beejay45

I love all the variations on this dish, but this one, with the garlicky brown rice sounds especially good. We will be having this soon for dinner. Thanks for a new slant on this!

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about 1 year ago creamtea

thank you!

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over 2 years ago creamtea

I hope you do try it, Hayley7846. Let me know how you like it.

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over 2 years ago Hayley7846

This is a great middle eastern recipe. I hope I could try this one soon and share it with my friends at blog.gourmetrecipe.com