Just two days ago, I hosted my second supper club. It really is an exhilarating experience. I love sharing my food and it's wonderful to know that people are enjoying what I'm serving up. I much prefer this way of cooking to a service kitchen. Running a supper club, if sufficiently prepared, is much less chaotic than cooking a number of single serving dishes to order.
Anyway, the added bonus of this is I get to cook food that I love and am passionate about. Not that I don't love a good bacon sandwich but it's very rare in York that people will have had Levantine food - and good, recognisable Levantine food at that. That way I get to cook what I grew up with and use ingredients that were so easy to get in the UAE that others might not even think twice about. I mean, when was the last time you saw a pink pickled turnip?
Likewise with Italian food. My next event is going to be Tuscan themed and there will not be a bowl of pasta in sight. I love pasta, one of my favourite dishes is spaghetti with olive oil and garlic. Simple yet incredibly delicious. But Tuscany is known for hearty, more-ish food that people enjoy when they visit and then seem to forget about when they go to their local Italian restaurant. I want to bring that experience of the large Tuscan family dinner table to York.
But back to the event of two days ago. I had such a fantastic time and I got some good feedback from my main that I wanted to share the recipe with you. I served mjaddera, which is one of my favourite winter dishes. I could easily eat this for days on end and not get sick of it. It's what I like to call "carbolicious". Mjaddera is a rice and lentils dish spiced with cumin and turmeric that is always served with crispy onions on top. I mean, just grab a spoon when it's ready and eat from the pot. I've been sorely tempted to do this before. The best thing about this recipe? It's so easy.
1 cup brown lentils
1 cup basmati rice
1 tsp cumin
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp salt
1 largish white onion, thinly sliced
Vegetable oil for frying
Boil the lentils in a saucepan. Make sure you use a good sized pot because you'll be adding the rice to it later.
Wash the rice until the water runs clear. Once the lentils are soft, add the cumin, garlic and olive oil. Give everything a quick stir and the add the rice, salt and turmeric. At this stage you might need to add more water. Make sure the rice is covered with water by about 2cm. Put a lid on the pot and turn it to a low heat. The rice is ready when all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is soft and fluffy.
While the rice is cooking, heat enough vegetable oil in a frying pan to shallow fry the onion. Fry until golden brown and crispy. Lay the onions on kitchen paper to drain any excess oil.
When your rice and lentils are ready, fluff it up with a fork and serve. Sprinkle the crispy onions on top and serve with pickles and thoum.