Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mujadara and Electrified Musics

Luckily for us, Greensboro is big enough to support lots of different food venues, from produce markets to restaurants to little specialty shops, many of which I have not perused, and probably many more I am not even aware of. However, one day when I was buying some produce downtown, I stopped to talk to Jammin' George, a talkative fellow who will invite you into his shop next to the produce market for a sample of his foodwares, which are very good quality Middle-Eastern style goodies that he and his wife make. Jams and jellies they also makes, hence his name.

George is Lebanese, and the types of foods he sells reflect his heritage. His falafel is tasty, indeed, and I get serious hankerings for his dolmathes. But the best discovery I had at George's was the Mujadara, a traditional Arabic dish, I believe. Lentils, rice and caramelized onions. So good and so simple.

So if I want to make Mujadara, I have to start a few hours ahead of time to get the onions caramelizing properly. I usually caramelize two onions, and that's a sufficient amount for the dish. Start the onions in a little olive oil and salt on higher heat to get them cooking. Cover them and lower the heat. Stir occasionally. Stir more. Cook for a long time. Be patient. I added a little water last night after the onions had been cooking awhile to deglaze and to continue cooking. Next time I will use Chardonnay instead of water to accomplish this, but I never considered it until after the fact.

Now, these lentils are easy to make and are made a little differently every time. I had two tomatoes (one which was shaped like a heart) that needed to be used, so I chopped and added them to the pot of lentils, veg broth, a little water, red pepper flakes, and a blend from P's--Turkish seasoning. Also some powdered ginger. Usually I have a fresh root in the fridge, but the powdered will suffice. Get those cooking for about 20 minutes or so until the lentils are how you like them. In the meantime, I had a bulb of garlic roasting in the oven. I cut it in half and let it roast on the rack until it was browned. The cloves will squeeze right out when they are roasted, and it is delicious. Using this method, I have doubly increased my garlic intake.

The lentils are done now, and I added enough salt, but not too much as I am cutting back. The rice is done. I also added ground beef to the dish. I don't know if that's traditional, but it is flavorful. Add some cilantro at the end, and the Mujadara is ready. Kenny and I had been playin music, bullshittin, and drinkin beer, and now I'm ready for a little supper. A dish of frozen yogurts for dessert, and we'll call it a good day.