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Categories: Main courses, Sides, Vegetarian

Muceddere (rice pilaf with chickpeas, lentils and browned onions)

Muceddere (rice pilaf with chickpeas, lentils and browned onions)
Los Angeles Times

I've been cooking rice for more than 30 years and just now discovered I've been doing it all wrong. All this time I've been following the same basic pilaf method -- probably learned from an old Pierre Franey column or ... Read more

Total time: 1 1/2 hours, plus 1 to 2 hours soaking time for the rice | Serves 4 to 6
Note: Adapted from Ozcan Ozan's "The Sultan's Kitchen." This can be a side dish or, if served with yogurt, a vegetarian main dish.
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup lentils (preferably green)
  • 1/4 cup orzo pasta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas
  • 1 cup peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes (about 6 small)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Turkish red pepper or smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

Step 1Place the rice in a strainer and rinse under the faucet, shaking to stir frequently. Transfer to a bowl and add enough lukewarm water to cover. Stir in 2 tablespoons salt and set aside to soak for at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours.

Step 2Add the lentils to 1 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook until they are almost tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Step 3Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, add 2 more tablespoons of salt, then add the rice and orzo and boil gently for 3 to 4 minutes, until almost cooked. Check by trying a grain: It should still have a bit of bite to it. Drain, rinse and set aside to drain.

Step 4In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sugar, and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and one-eighth teaspoon pepper, or to taste. Cover the saucepan and cook gently until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover the pan, increase the heat to high and stir in the lemon juice. Cook, stirring, until the onions are browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Do not let the onions scorch.

Step 5Add the rice, lentils, orzo and chickpeas to the saucepan and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, cumin, red pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle over 2 tablespoons of water. Cover the pan with a tight lid and cook on the lowest possible heat for 35 minutes (a heat diffuser helps).

Step 6Turn off the heat, wrap the lid in a tea towel, cover the pan and set aside for 10 minutes. Use a fork to stir in the cilantro and serve.

Each of 6 servings:
308 calories; 7 grams protein; 47 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 10 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 1,128 mg sodium.
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