food gluten- free vegan

Mujaddara stuffed peppers – vegan Lebanese delicacy

Today I would like to take you on a trip to the Middle East. Somehow, lots of vegan dishes come from the Middle East: tabbouleh, fresh fruit salads, falafel… and mujadara. Mujadara, also spelled as mujaddara or m’judhara, is also known as the “poor man’s meal”, and dates back to medieval times in Arab history. First mentions of mujaddara can be found in a 1226 cookbook “Kitab al-Tabikh” but its history dates back to the biblical times of the great hunger of Esau:

32 “Look, I’m dying of hunger,” Esau said. “What good are those rights to me?”33 But Jacob said, “First promise to sell me your rights.” So Esau promised to do it. He sold Jacob all the rights that belonged to him as the oldest son.34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. Esau ate and drank. Then he got up and left.

 Genesis 25:32-34 New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)

Can you guess what the lentil stew was? Yep – it was mujaddara, known by some as “Esau’s pottage”. I’m not very religious, but I find the Bible an extremely interesting source of historical information. It was fascinating for me to explore a type of food from the Bible and I hope you will enjoy it too. I think it would be an amazing idea to not only find some foods in the Bible but also dig into other religious and historical sources and find some historic culinary gems! Who knows!
 
References

Salloum H. and Peters J. From the lands of figs and olives: over 300 delicious and unusual recipes from the Middle East and North Africa, p. 199.

Stop talking! I’m hungry!

I first heard about mujadara from my local little Middle Eastern store where I used to stock up on falafel and pickled peppers. One day, the nice lady suggested that I try mujadara which I eagerly did. I had it cold – as a salad – and I loved it immediately. I remember reading somewhere that it took many centuries for mujaddara to be introduced to the Western world because the native cultivators of its tradition did not see it as something that might be exciting to the Western man, and just a type of cheap eats. So, is it yet another type of rice and beans? Let’s find out!

The original mujaddara has twice as much rice as lentils and used to be “dressed up” with meat for celebrations – but for obvious reasons we are not going to investigate that version. Although we will “dress it up” with more veggies, and use a 1:1 proportion of lentils to rice, to balance our macronutrients better. As we know, lentils are a great source of vegetarian protein, especially paired with rice. The poor man’s stew originally consisted of cooked rice and lentils, and was topped with fried onions, served hot or cold as a salad. We are going to make it in a way simpler way: as a one-pot dish, which will save us a lot of time.

Preparation

Ingredients:
For mujaddara:
1 cup of rice
1 cup of green lentils
one large white onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of oil of your choice
(I used grapeseed)
3 cups of water

Also:
2-3 red peppers
vegan cheese (optional)Preparation:

  1. Do you know one of these jokes that every recipe starts with “grab a clean pot”? Well, here we go again. Grab a clean pot, but you’re gonna need only one. Drizzle some oil on the bottom and let it heat up while you chop your onions finely.
  2. Fry your onions until beautifully golden brown. Mix them carefully every now and then not to burn them as I did!
  3. Carefully add 3 cups of water, then rice and lentils. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until rice and lentils are soft. They may have a different cooking time depending on their kind, so make sure by checking the packaging that you get rice and lentils with similar cook time. Start preheating your oven to 350 F – it’s gonna take a while.
  4. Mix it every now and then to avoid sticking. When water evaporates completely and the stew has a thick consistency, remove it from the stove.
  5. Cut the seeds out of your peppers and stuff them with mujadara. You can leave them open or keep the cap to cover them.
  6. Bake until the peppers become beautifully soft.
  7. Top with vegan cheese (optional).

Nutritional value

Nutritional value in one serving (1 medium pepper):

 11,3g of protein 22g of fat 36,5g of carbs approx. 400 kcal per portion   What may interest you is that one whole baked red bell pepper has approximately 100% of your daily recommended intake value of vitamin A and 500% of vitamin C. This information is based on a NutritionData report. One cup of lentils gives you 90% of your daily recommended intake of folate, which is an extremely important micronutrient. It’s also a good source of other B-vitamins such as thiamin, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid. It’s a great source of dietary fiber too. (NutritionData report) Considering all of the above, it’s possible to have a great-tasting vegan meal on a budget, with a historical twist to it that makes you appreciate it way more!

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2 Comments

  • Laura

    What a great vegan dish! And who knew it dated back to 1226, wow! I will definitely be trying out this recipe soon. 😉

    • admin

      Thank you for your visit Laura! Go ahead and try it, it’s so simple and yet so filling and tasty 🙂

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