Friday, 22 July 2011

Crispy Mucandara: Rice and Green Lentil Pilaf with Onion and Sesame

delicious mucandara pilaf: rice and green lentils with onion and sesame

Today is our 50 Women Game-Changers in Food day and the woman we are celebrating is Madhur Jaffrey famous not only for her marvellous cooking but for her acting too. In fact she sees herself first as an actress not a cook which surprised me.  But  our Aegean village of Assos is a world away from cardomom pods and garam masala so Madhur Jaffrey is not for me today. Follow the links of the bloggers at the end of this post who will transport you to an Indian feast .... 

As for me, I am going to share a really delicious pilaf recipe with you.  It comes from Refika’s book ‘Cooking New Istanbul Style’, that colourful treasure trove of all sorts of culinary information not only recipes. It’s worth it for the photography alone with its many fabulous Istanbul scenes of all the kinds of Turkish foodie places we love such as the Spice Market, fish markets,local bakeries and the like: they are captivating and indeed it was the picture of this dish that first caught my eye.  It is rice with green lentils. Yes, I know. More lentils. After all those winter lentils, I swore to myself that I would give them a break but that picture really inspired me and it was every bit as scrumptious as I anticipated. I do love lentils!

 According to Refika, bar the sesame seeds and the fusion presentation, this is a traditional Cypriot recipe which she learned from her aunt who hails from Cyprus. She calls it ‘ Crispy Mucandara’ or Çıtır Mücandara Pilavı but I couldn’t find any information about that. I think it would go well with summer barbecues.

Ingredients for Mucandara Pilavı

Serves 4

I cup green lentils

I cup rice

2 onions

½ cup olive oil

2 tbsp sesame seeds


·        Boil the lentils in 5 cups of water for 10 minutes. Sieve and reserve the cooking water.

draining the lentils over a bowl

·        Slice the onions into thin rounds and then in half. Gently heat the olive oil in a pan and saute the onions till they start to brown. Remove half of them and put aside.

sauteing the half-moon onions

·        Add the rice to the remaining onions in the pan and stir the grains so that they are covered in the oil just as you do when making regular pilaf.

the cooked rice and onions

·        Add 2 cups of the water that was used to cook the lentils. Stir this into the rice and onions. Cook until the rice is done then stir the cooked lentils into it.

·        Take the onions that were put aside and caramelize them by cooking further in a separate small pan. Add the sesame seeds.

sauteing the remaining onion with the sesame seeds

·        To serve: put the pilaf in a dish and sprinkle the caramelized onion and sesame seed mixture on top.

remains of mucandara

Afiyet olsun!

Here is the ever-growing list of those who have responded to Mary of One Perfect Bite's challenge: every Friday following the list of 50 Women Game-Changers in Food we cook a recipe from the list. (Except this week I couldn't).

Heather - girlichef

Jeanette - Healthy Living

April - Abby Sweets

Hope you are enjoying this as much as we are! See you next Friday and I hope I will be able to post!