Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Miraculous M'jeddrah



So if you haven't heard of this delicious, and rather ubiquitous Middle Eastern dish, there are many ways to spell it: M'jeddrah, Mejadarah, Mujadrah. And the list goes on. The dish can be found from the Nile Delta to the Levant to the Gulf States. Subtle variations on the dish are found in Persian and Indian cuisines. It may seem exotic (read complicated), but it's not. Until now I've been doing my own version based on a few different recipes in a big stockpot on the stove. Then one busy day last week I decided to employ my electric pressure cooker (which I have a love affair with as described in previous posts).

I sautéed onions and bloomed my spices in the pressure cooker pot, then dumped in the remaining ingredients. I locked the lid, set the timer and hoped for the best.  After the 20 minutes cooking time, and waiting 10 minutes more for natural release (meaning don't flip the switch that lets steam escape...let it relax and escape naturally).

When I lifted the lid I was gifted with the aromatic smell of cumin and turmeric wafting towards me and the vision of PERFECT m'jeddrah before my eyes!  It's rare to hit upon the perfect outcome the on the first try, but Baruch Hashem, in this case I did! Below is my recipe for pressure pot m'jeddrah. There are variations on the spices, and you can play around with water amounts if you choose to use brown rice. It's a bit like stew in the sense that you can do your own riff on the recipe, and it will still come out good!

Remember that you have to factor in the time it takes to "come up to pressure" once you turn the pot on. In some cases it can be 30 minutes, and cooking time starts at that point. I find the fuller the pot and the more water the longer it takes to come up to pressure.  The beauty of the electric pressure cooker is that the you can press one button and walk monitoring a pot coming to boil which you have to reduce to simmer, etc. 

Electric Pressure Cooker M'jeddrah
(Vegan/Gluten Free)

1 1/2 cups brown lentils (soaked in a bowl of cold water for 2 hours)
1 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed (but if you don't it's o.k.)
1/4 cup olive oil (EVOO or regular)
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
pinch turmeric* (optional)
bay leaf (optional)
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
6 cups cold water

Turn on electric pressure cooker for sauté. I usually turn it on to the meat/chicken mode for this purpose. Add olive oil and heat to medium-high heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent and begins to brown.

Add spices, except pepper, and stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add rice, lentils and pepper. Stir until well coated with oil and spices.

Add water and stir.  Secure lid on pressure cooker, and make sure safety valve is set to proper position for cooking.  Set cooker to 20 minutes on bean/rice mode. And walk away.

When the cooking is done, wait 10 minutes, or until steam dissipates on it's own to open lid. Serve or leave on keep warm setting for up to 2 hours.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

*Please not that turmeric can stain. I encourage my kids to change out of their white uniform shirts before we eat a dish containing a significant amount of turmeric. You can omit the turmeric in this recipe.