There were a handful of dishes that my mom made that I considered her default meal for a given week. If she just didn’t feel like cooking, she would make one of maybe five meals at the beginning of the week and we’d be stuck eating it for days. To be considered a meal of default status, it has to be fairly easy to make and easy to make in massively large proportions. We used to have these huge tunjaras (pots) that she would fill to the brim with all sorts of stuff I bitched about eating.
Imjudarah was one of those dishes. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t like the taste of Imjudarah. I was kind of neutral about it, really. It was more that I found it a. less exciting than say fried chicken or mac and cheese and b. I hated the salad she used to make that accompanied the dish. Traditionally, Imjudarah is eaten with either laban ( which is essentially homemade plain yogurt – just more tart in my opinion) and/or a tomato-cucumber salad. For some reason, I hated any salad that used olive oil and lemon; probably because it meant there were raw onions included and we all know how I feel about raw onions. I was actually just having dinner with a cousin of mine tonight and she asked what I was making this week. When I told her, said she just doesn’t get why you would put cold salad on top of hot rice. Up until very recently, I totally agreed.
Either my taste buds have changed or I’m willing to be more open minded about the food I eat because I love Imjudarah now. And once I altered the tomato-cucumber salad to include fresh garlic vs. onion, I even love it with the salad.
I’ve actually made this dish before. My dad and I had a trial run a few months back where he tried teaching me how to cook. I spent a really long time typing out his recipe for everything while we cooked and I can’t find that damn Word document anywhere. I’m going to make it this time with my mom’s recipe – obviously. I’m actually really excited about making it this week because my confidence in cooking rice has grown a great deal since I started this blog. Making rice was such an elusive thing to me. I don’t know why I was so apprehensive.
1 cup of lentils “washed”
2 cups rice “soaked for 30 minutes”
Salt, pepper and cumin
Cook over medium heat one cup of lentils in four cups of water for about twenty minutes. Add rice and spices and continue to cook over medium heat for about 15 additional minutes. Lower heat and cook until all the water is absorbed.
4 tbs. olive oil
Cut and slice onion and fry in the oil until a dark brown – almost burnt. Serve on top of the rice.
Onion ( I love how my aunt put “optional’ next to this. I have no idea if my mom really had that written in her recipe)
Fresh mint – finely chopped ( you can probably use dried mint, but it won’t have the same pow to it)
All of this is to taste and portion depends on how much of the rice you choose to make. Chop up the veggies into small, uniform bites and add salt, pepper, lemon and oil to taste. The mint is optional, but really does make a difference. Serve over rice.