This is another one of those cyclical repetoire recipes. The kind I can almost make blindfolded, because I've made it so often. It's a treasure, it is loved, it is reliable. Made of just a few simple ingredients, it tastes wonderful and satisfies great hungers. It is not original to me; it is a traditional Jordanian dish. I don't remember where I first saw it or ate it, but there are versions in lots of cookbooks-including vegetarian ones. Serve it with a traditional fatoosh salad, which includes toasted pitas and is sprinkled liberally with tart red sumac, or really with any green salad including parsley and a lemony dressing. It is a delicious meal, and it is so cheap it is practically free.
It requires no hard to find ingredients. It is even healthy, sort of, except that there is a lot of oil in it. You don't want to skimp on the oil, because if you do, it will not be wonderful. If you are a starving student or just generally impecunious, this is the meal for you. Make extra, have some tomorrow, too, and impress your friends. It is much more than the sum of its parts. Perhaps you can tell that I like my Muhjadarra?
All you need is:
olive oil 6 tbsps
a very big onion, sliced fairly thin, but not shredded
lentils 1 1/4 cup (the green French ones are especially tasty, though nontraditional)
S and P
long grain rice 1 cup
Heat all the oil in a frying pan or wok. Add onion, and cook over a medium heat, until it is a very deep, chocolate brown. Be patient, this is important. You want your onions very dark, but not at all black-like a roux for a gumbo. While you are doing that, put the lentils in a big heavy pot with a quart of water, and some salt. Bring to a boil, and simmer 15 minutes. Add the rice and quite a bit of freshly ground pepper. If the water is not enough to barely cover, add a bit more. Cover and cook on low until the rice is done, 15-20 minutes. Stir in half the onions with a fork. Turn off heat, cover, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Adjust salt and add a bunch of freshly grated black pepper. Spoon into a serving bowl, and top with the rest of the onions and oil. Fall upon it like beasts-but don't forget the salad.
Caution (courtesy of B. S's experience, and a bit of research): Don't make this with orange lentils, which will cook too fast (being hulled) and get mushy. Your children might play word games with it, though-see comments!)