Moujendra with pourgouri
Moujendra, (known as Mujaddara in The Middle East, with the first known recipe being printed in an Iraqi Cookbook), is a very old Cypriot favourite, traditionally made with lentils and rice but, it’s also delicious if you make it with Pourgouri (cracked wheat).
This lentil dish is pronounced ‘Moujendra’ in Cyprus and ‘Mudardara’ in Lebanon.
Lentils have been used since the Bronze Age in Egypt and India. The thing I like about lentils is that they do not require pre-soaking unlike other pulses and can be cooked from dry. Moujendra makes an excellent light meal, topped with plain yoghurt, and is also a nice accompaniment to meat and fish dishes.
2 large onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
40ml olive oil + 40ml extra
1 tbsp cumin seeds
200g/7oz dried brown or green lentils
1 tsp Za’atar (a Lebanese spice)
200g/7oz coarse bulgur wheat
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fry the onions in olive oil for 5 minutes until caramelised, remove them from the pan and place on a sieve.
Wash the lentils in a sieve until the water runs clear.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a saucepan over a medium-high heat, add the cumin seeds and toast for 1 minute. Then add half of the fried onions and lentils, mix and add 1 teaspoon salt, freshly ground black pepper and za’atar. Stir to toast and coat the lentils with olive oil and spices.
Add about 300ml hot water so it comes about 3cm / 1¼ inches above the lentils, then cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the lentils are almost cooked – the lentils should still be a little firm.
Stir in the Pourgouri (bulgur), top up with hot water so it is still 3cm / 1¼ inches above the lentils and bulgur. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil, simmer for 10 minutes, then take off the heat.
Cover the saucepan with a clean tea towel and set aside for 10-15 minutes.
Remove the tea towel and lid, fluff up with a fork, taste and adjust seasoning.
Top with the rest of the onions and serve with Greek yogurt. Nice warm or cold!