Quarantine Eats: Mujadara

2 cups white basmati rice
1 cup brown lentils
2 tsp cumin
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 bay leaves
2 strips lemon peel, about 2 inches long each
2 large onions, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 tsp salt, more or less to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, more or less to taste

1 - Rinse and sort the rice, removing any small stones or impurities, then cover it with cold water. Let it soak at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.

2 - Rinse and sort the lentils, removing any small stones or impurities.

3 - In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils. Reduce heat to medium and simmer the lentils till they are tender, but not soft or mushy (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and drain, then rinse in a colander with cold water.

4 - Drain and rinse the soaked rice.

5 - In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup olive oil till hot enough for frying. Add the lentils to the pot along with the cumin, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Sauté for 2 minutes.

6 - Add the drained rice to the pot and stir. Turn heat to low.

7 - Rinse out the saucepan where you cooked the lentils and pour in 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then carefully pour it over the lentils and rice. Stir, raise heat on the large pot to medium high. Add bay leaves and lemon peel to the pot and bring water to a boil. Cover the pot. Reduce heat and let the rice steam at a low simmer for 20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.

8 - Turn off the rice, uncover the pot, fluff the rice with a fork, cover the pot again and let it sit for another 15 minutes.

9 - Meanwhile, heat up 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet. Fry the onion slices over medium heat until they are soft and nicely caramelized. Season with salt and pepper.

10 - Fluff the mujadara with a fork again. Serve topped with the caramelized onions. If you like the flavor of butter, you can substitute melted butter for olive oil. If you do this, please keep in mind that the dish becomes dairy rather than parve.

Recipe adapted from Tori Avey