The first time I ever had mujadara, I thought, "Yum, just like Mom used to make!" even though my mother never made any such dish. But it's the kind of dish that makes you think of the comforts of home no matter what you grew up eating. Here I've taken the basic form of mujadara (lentils, rice and onions) and spiced it up a bit. The risotto treatment works great making the dish creamy and all the easier to eat by the bowlful. If you have a high quality nut oil to finish the dish, do use it: it really brings out the nuttiness of the lentils. —vrunka
dry brown lentils
onions, thiny sliced
olive oil, divided
garlic cloves, minced
cooked rice (I prefer brown basmati, but any rice will do)
In a medium saucepan, bring 1 quart of water to a boil and add lentils. Reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook until lentils are soft about 30 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil, onions and a few shakes of salt. Saute until the onions have wilted (about 2 minutes) and reduce heat to medium low. Stir occasionally as the onions caramelize. Remove from heat when the onions are a nice deep brown, about 30 minutes.
When the lentils are done, heat another medium saucepan over medium high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds before adding the cinnamon, cumin and coriander. Stir for just a few seconds more, then add rice, lentils and a half cup of stock. Stir until the rice mixture has absorbed the stock and then add another 1/2 cup of stock. Repeat until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice mixture is creamy. Stir in the caramelized onions along with the last 1/2 cup of stock. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon the risotto into 4 bowls. Top with a drizzle of nut oil and a sprinkling of smoked paprika.