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Chef Mica Talmor’s Majadra with Lamb Kefta


  • Author: Chef Mica Talmor
  • Yield: Serves 8

Description

Popular throughout the Arab world, this spiced lentils and rice dish is most often served with a generous swirl of tahini sauce and a topping of fried onions. For Chef Mica Talmor of Pomella in Oakland, the fried onions are a high art. While many places caramelize them for several hours, Chef Mica fries them until crisp and dries them overnight by the heat of the pilot in a gas oven.

*Majadra goes by many names. Whether it’s called majadera, mujaddara, mejadra, moujadara, mudardara, or megadarra, it’s always a nutritious and delicious delight.


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the fried onions

  • 2 or 3 yellow onions
  • 3 to 4 cups canola oil, depending on the size of the pot

For the lentils and rice

  • 4 ounces petite French green lentils (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups white basmati rice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 23 tablespoons canola oil

For the lamb kefta

  • 2 1/2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 bunch mint, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, avoid large stems, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 ounce puréed garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 ounces toasted pine nuts (about 1/4 cup)

For the tahini-yogurt sauce

  • 2 cups low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup raw tahini
  • 1 garlic clove, puréed (about 3/4 teaspoons)
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

To make the fried onions: Slice the onions thinly (by hand or with a mandoline), making sure slices are the same size so they’ll cook evenly. Put ¼ cup oil in a large skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the onions, and sauté them for 8 to 10 minutes, until they lose most of their moisture.

Heat a pot of oil to 350° and set up a tray lined with paper towels. With a slotted spoon, transfer a few onion slices at a time from the skillet to the pot (do not overcrowd), frying until lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on the towel-lined tray. Sprinkle with salt and then place in a very low oven overnight or in a 200° warming drawer for an hour.

If you don’t want to do this multi-stepped process, Chef Mica recommends skipping the sauté stage and deep-frying them a bit longer. Or just caramelize them in a skillet for about 30 minutes.

To make the majadra (lentils and rice): Fill a small saucepan with cold water, add lentils, bring to a boil, and turn heat down to a simmer. Cook until lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and then rinse in cold water.

Measure the spices, salt, and sugar into a small bowl. Pour the oil into a medium pot and heat it until it shimmers. Add the spice mixture and sauté, stirring frequently, for 1–2 minutes: It should bubble without burning. Add the rice, stirring to coat each grain, then sauté for a few more minutes, stirring constantly until the rice turns opaque. Pour 2¼ cups of hot or boiling water into the pot and add the lentils. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to a simmer, then cover the pot tightly and cook for 13 to 15 minutes. When done, turn off the heat, fluff rice with a fork, cover again, and allow the rice to steam for another 10 minutes. Remove lid and fluff again before serving.

To make the kefta: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Chop the mint, parsley, and onion by hand and then mix together with the lamb, garlic, spices, and pine nuts. Shape onto a metal skewer, if desired, or into a sausage shape. Cook for 5 minutes in the oven on a tray, and then finish on the grill, on a grill pan, or in a skillet until all sides are browned.

To make the tahini-yogurt sauce: Combine yogurt, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes for flavors to meld. Taste and adjust with salt and lemon juice as needed.

To plate: Place a layer of majadra in a shallow bowl. Place two lamb kefta on top. Liberally drizzle with about ¼ cup tahini-yogurt sauce, then top with a handful of fried onions.

 

  • Category: Entrée

Keywords: spiced lentils and rice dish, fried onions, lamb kafka, tahini sauce

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