WELCOME TO LINDA’S PANTRY!
Introduced by Donna Pilcher
57-year-old Linda Eldon-Ramshaw was born into a foodie family with hard-working parents who made homemade delights to sell in their village store. She spent a great deal of time with her great-grandmother, who was an old-fashioned Northumberland fisherwoman, with vats of crab and lobster bubbling away in the yard. “I used to swap lobster sandwiches for Spam at school, ‘cause I was so bloomin’ fed up wi’ the stuff,” smiles Linda, with her charming Northumbrian lilt.
Known among friends for her generous hospitality, personal style and creativity; the preparing and sharing of delicious treats has been Linda’s lifelong passion, but a recent cancer diagnosis and ongoing chemotherapy has seen her turn her attention to dishes that both nourish the body and help to boost the immune system. In regular glimpses into her pantry, Linda will share her favourite recipes and hope to inspire you with her infectious joie de vivre and passion for flavoursome food.
Here, Linda introduces us to a dish that is not only delicious but is simple to prepare, flexible, and packed with valuable fibre and protein. It’s also fewer than 400 calories for a generous serving!
Slow Cooker Mujaddara
By Linda Eldon-Ramshaw
Mujaddara first appeared in Iraq, in 1226, in the Kitab al-Tabikh, (which simply means ‘book of dishes’), written by Muhammad bin Hasan al-Baghdadi. This tasty and soothing dish will fill up the emptiest of tummies without costing a king’s ransom. The lentils and rice are seasoned with cumin, coriander, cinnamon and allspice, transforming this plain staple into a wonderfully warm and aromatic treat. The yogurt dressing adds a fresh, cool element, which balances the seasoning and really cuts through the spiciness of the dish.
The original recipe, usually including meat, was served during lavish medieval banquets. However, without meat, this traditional dish was commonly prepared as an everyday meal by all members of society.
I believe that even in vegan form, the taste is so rich, warm and delicious that you will be more than happy to add this easy and inexpensive recipe to your list of family favourites. It also has the added bonus that it is made in a slow cooker, so can be prepared in advance and greet you with enticing aromas when you arrive home after a busy day.
How to make Linda’s Pantry Mujaddara.
NB. The recipe will easily feed eight people if served on its own, or at least a dozen if used as a side dish. Portions can be frozen and reheated as needed.
Nutrition Data Per Serving (Serves 8 as a main course or at least 12 as a side dish)
Calories (kcal) 398.9
Protein (g) 14.9
Carbohydrate (g) 63.9
Fat (g) 9.2
Fibre (g) 6.1
125g pot, plain, low fat or non-dairy yogurt
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, grated or minced fine
1 tsp of salt
1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
3 large onions, halved and sliced
2 tsp salt (plus a couple of pinches for seasoning)
2 tbsp arrowroot powder or cornflour
50ml vegetable oil for frying
Rice and Lentils
8 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped
4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp ground coriander
400g rinsed and dried, uncooked, brown rice
200g rinsed, uncooked brown lentils
1.5 litres boiling water
Tin chopped tomatoes in juice
150g of frozen peas
(Cayenne pepper and salt to season to your own taste)
Garnish with fresh mint, coriander or parsley and (if in season) sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds
- Place the onions in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Leave them for approximately 10 minutes (this stops then being soggy, so they crisp up nicely).
- To make the yogurt sauce: Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your own taste. Cover and refrigerate, until you are ready to serve your Mujaddara.
- Place the dry, washed lentils, in the slow cooker, and add the water. Set the cooker to low, and cover while you prepare the rice.
- Rinse the onions with lots of cold water and then pat them as dry as possible with kitchen roll. Toss the onions in the arrowroot powder. (Cornflour also works, if you don’t have arrowroot)
- In a frying pan, over a medium heat, warm the oil and then add half the onions. Fry until browned and crisp. Transfer them to a kitchen paper-covered plate and sprinkle with one pinch of salt. Repeat with the second half of the onions. Set the cooked onions aside, and keep the oil in the pan for cooking the rice.
- Next, with the oil left from frying the onions over a medium heat, add the spices (except the Cayenne) and the minced garlic to the oil, stir just until fragrant, (Don’t overcook them, or they will taste bitter) then add the rice and mix until well coated with the aromatic oil. Carefully transfer the rice to the slow cooker, add the tomatoes and lentils along with their liquid, stir in well and replace the slow cooker lid. (Now, look smug and pour your favourite tipple: you have earned it!). Leave the mixture to cook on the lowest setting for five hours. (You can check the consistency and add some more water if you wish to leave it for longer, or if your slow cooker soaks up the liquid faster than usual)
- Half an hour before you are ready to serve your meal, taste, and stir in Cayenne and salt to your preference. (Some like it hot!)
- Just before serving, add the frozen peas (the heat of the cooked ingredients will defrost and cook them) and half the crispy onions, and stir.
- When ready to serve, simply remove the ceramic dish from the slow cooker, (use oven gloves, and place the dish on a trivet or heatproof mat), pile on the other half of the crispy onions some fresh herbs, and decorate with pomegranate seeds if you have them. (They do look like gorgeous jewels against the Mujaddara, so are great for special occasions) and serve with the yogurt sauce and a “Tah dah!”
“This dish is just as tasty served cold in a picnic or packed lunch, or served warm with grilled fish, slow-cooked pork, roast chicken or Moroccan style lamb tagine. However, it also provides a balanced meal for vegans or vegetarians served with the non-dairy yogurt dressing, fresh tomatoes and green salad. I hope you love it as much as I do!”