Rice and Lentil Stew

15 Nov

My husband is a vegetarian and I am often on the hunt for new recipes with some version on non-gassy protein alternative. Often I end up making mujadra – a delicious rice and lentil dish. It is easy and takes about 30 minutes from start to finish.

Now luckily for me, I have a husband that is happy eating the same thing over and over. However, I love to experiment and make new dishes for the both of us. So tonight I made an experiment and it was deeeelicious.

I was inspired by mujedra and makluba (a hearty dish of rice, lamb/chicken, eggplants, cauliflower and rice).

The recipe is step-intensive as this dish is all about the layering of flavors. Read through the recipe at least twice.

Rice, Lentil & Eggplant Stew

Serves 4


I need to work on my food presentation


1 small eggplant

1 onion

1 cup of dry brown lentils (mine are not fast cook)

1/4 tsp coriander seeds

1/4 tsp  mustard seeds

1 tablespoon of turmeric

1 tsp of cinnamon

2 bay leaves

1 clove of garlic (or a bit more if you like garlic, or none if you don’t)

1 cup of brown short grain rice

Canola oil (or your oil of choice except olive oil)

Cooking instructions:

First pot/saucepan 

  • Pour one cup of lentils into a saucepan or small pot
  • Cover the lentils with water
  • Add the bay leaves.
  • Put a lid on the saucepan and let it cook on a medium flame for 20 minutes (or until they are soft)

Second pot/saucepan

  • Wash + dice the eggplant
  • Add eggplant into a bowl and sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of salt on the eggplant and mix with your hands. You want to dry out the eggplant a bit
  • Chop a whole onion + garlic
  • Place the saucepan on medium heat and add a tablespoon of canola oil. Give it a minute or two so the oil gets hot.
  • Add the onion + garlic and give the pot a good shake to coat the onion + garlic in oil. Leave until they turn a gorgeous yellow color (around 10 minutes). You do not want to mix for the first couple of minutes.
  • Once the onion is a rich yellow color, pour it out into a large bowl
  • Add another tablespoon of canola oil and add the diced eggplant. Mix it a bit to soften. You need to mix it once in awhile while it’s cooking so it does not stick and burn. (Cooking should take no more than 10 minutes).
  • Pour the cooked eggplant over the onion in the bowl
  • Now it is time for the gorgeous flavors. Add the spices to the pot – coriander seeds, mustard seeds, turmeric and cinnamon.
  • Stir the spices- by frying the spices in the remaining oil/hot pot, we are opening up the flavors
  • Add 1/4 of a cup of water, mix and scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure you got all the spices.
  • Pour the liquid over the eggplant and onions.
  • Transfer the onion and eggplant back into the pot and add the cup of raw brown short grain rice on the top.
  • Pour water until it just covers the top of the rice (around 2 cups), add the lid and let it sit on the stovetop for about 20 minutes on the medium flame.
  • Once you cannot see the water anymore, turn off the heat and leave the top on for another 10 minutes.

Now it’s time to combine the two pots.

  • Strain the lentils in case there is remaining water (I always have too much water).
  • Remove the bay leaves
  • Mix the cooked lentils well into the second pot with the rice,eggplant and onion.
  • Serve

**The dish does not need any additional salt since we never washed it off the eggplant

Walnut, cranberry and goat cheese stuffed grape leaves

22 May

For those of you who love stuffed grape leaves, I have a new version for you.

Stuffed grape leaves

Walnut, cranberry and goat cheese stuffed grape leaves

The recipe is quite easy.. here are the ingredients: 

1. Jar of preserved grape leaves in brine

2. cup of walnuts

3. half a cup of dried cranberries

4. Half a cup of goat cheese



Step 1: Crush the walnuts  (you want big chunks, just not whole walnuts)

Step 2: Dump crushed walnuts into a bowel

Step 3: Add the dried cranberries and goat cheese

Step 4: Mix in a tablespoon of the brine from the leaves

Step 5: Mix it all with your hands

Step 6: Stuff the grape leaves (one teaspoon/leaf) until the filling is finished –  See how to stuff grape leaves here 

It yields about 20 stuffed grape leaves



Brining & Cooking a NY Style Corned Beef

3 Apr

I decided to embark on a journey and make my own corned beef from scratch. And man, was it worth it. I semi-followed a bunch of recipes and below is my version.

About 3 kilos of beef brisket or navel (#3 cut of meat – ask the butcher to remove all of the fat)
2 liter of  water (enough to cover submerge the meat and then some)
8 ounces kosher salt, by weight
Pickling spices (recipe below)
4 cloves garlic (whole, smashed or pressed)
1 large food grade container to fit the meat and the water (cannot be metal, aluminum, garbage bag or cast iron)

To prepare: 

Step 1. Boil at least 1/2 liter of water

Step 2: Pour hot water into (cleaned) food container

Step 3: Measure the salt using a scale.

Step 4: Pour the salt into the water, stir

Step 5: Pour the pickling spices into the water

Step 6: Pour in the remaining COLD water

Step 7: Wait until the water is room temperature

Step 8: Submerge the meat and hold it there until it gets heavier and stays below the water line. You can place a plate on top of the meat to keep it submerged.

Step 9: Place in the fridge for 5 days

To cook:

Step 1: Spill out the liquid and rinse the meat

Step 2: Fill up a large enough pot and submerge the meat in clean water. On a low simmer, boil it for one hour

Step 3: Remove from stove top and pour out the water.

Step 4. Fill up the pot and meat with clean water

Step 5. Put the pot back on the stove top and cover, let it simmer for 3 hours.

Step 6: Pout our the water, let the meat rest in a clean container

Step 7: Refrigerate whole  or serve

Step 8: Cut AGAINST the grain. Pay attention to the grain.

Homemade Pickling Spices:

1/2 cup of mixed peppercorns (red/green/black)

6 Bay leaves

6-10 cardamon   pods

1 tablespoon of all spice berries

1 tablespoon of ground ginger

1 tablespoon of sweet paprika

3 whole cinnamon sticks

I hope y’all enjoy it!