July 24, 2008
Megadarra (me-ga-DAR-ra) is immensely popular in Egypt, as it is in the rest of the Arab World. (Elsewhere, the dish is pronounced mu-jah-DRA.) It’s served either warm or at room temperature as a mezze, or appetizer, often accompanied by yogurt. Large quanities of dark caramelized onions are the best part. (link)
The Seattle Times posted the recipes for Megadarra and Harissa. It takes time to make, but well worth the effort. The flavors are surprisingly complex.
- 3 large cloves garlic, peeled
- 8 cups of water, divided
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup French lentils (du Puy), sorted well and rinsed
- 1 cup long-grain brown rice, rinsed and drained
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 2 medium-large onions, sliced thin (about 4 cups sliced)
- 1 cup full-fat or low-fat plain yogurt
1. In medium saucepan combine garlic and 6 cups water; season liberally with salt. Bring to boil over medium heat, add lentils and simmer until lentils are just tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and mash garlic into lentils and transfer to mixing bowl.
2. In medium saucepan combine rice, 2 cups water and a large pinch salt. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, cover and reduce to low. Cook 1 hour, until the rice is very soft, then transfer to bowl with lentils and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. While rice cooks, melt butter in large skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until very well browned and dramatically reduced in volume, about 12 to 20 minutes. (Add a splash or two of water if necessary to prevent sticking or burning.) Season with salt and pepper.
4. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 400 degrees. Spread lentil and rice mixture into buttered 9-by-13-inch baking or casserole dish and cover with an even layer of onion mixture. Wrap tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then serve accompanied by yogurt, harissa (see accompanying recipe) or hot sauce, and salt.
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 3 cloves garlic, halved
- 3 dried New Mexico chilies
- 12 sun-dried tomato halves (about 1/2 cup)
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil (can be reduced to a teaspoon or two)
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- Cayenne pepper
1. In very small skillet combine cumin and caraway seeds and garlic and cook over medium-low heat until very fragrant and garlic begins to color, about 5 minutes. Transfer the garlic to a food processor. Grind the toasted cumin and caraway seeds with a mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder and add to the food processor.
2. Return skillet to heat and add chilies. Toast until lightly browned and very aromatic, 2 to 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl; add sun-dried tomatoes, cover with boiling water and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to sit until chilies are quite soft, about 20 minutes. Drain through fine-mesh strainer, reserving the soaking liquid.
3. Transfer chilies and tomatoes to food processor, add oil and vinegar, and process until very smooth and uniformly blended, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down sides of work bowl as necessary. Adjust seasoning with salt and cayenne to taste. Add a tablespoon or 2 of the reserved soaking liquid if the harissa is too stiff. Transfer to bowl and refrigerate until needed.