Good Friday is the last Friday in Lent, when Catholics abstain from eating meat. Many non Catholics also follow this tradition, if only for Good Friday. Once upon a time, the idea of entertaining without meat would have been unthinkable. These days, with many who eat less or no meat and, the whole of the globe to plunder when composing a menu, it couldn’t be easier.
Easter is a time for reflection and celebration. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s spring with new foliage, flowers and baby animals. There is no denying the symbolism of the link between new life and the re-birth of Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, in my neck of the woods, it’s allegedly autumn. A time to enjoy cooler evenings and think about getting back into the kitchen after a long, hot summer. Still too hot for soups and braises but cooked dishes are at least on the menu again. Easter is the perfect four day long weekend. You can get together with friends and family without all of the pressure and tension that seems to attach itself to Christmas celebrations.
Crispy Onions – You Can Never Have Too Many
Some of you may recall that I was gifted nearly a full case of onions which meant I had to do some creative cooking and thinking. I made a number of onion dishes including a delicious Caramelised Onion Tart and a wildly popular Chickpeas with Rice & Currants. The thing that made is so wildly popular was the crispy onions. They are just so moreish. It was very hard not to eat them all before they made it on to the dish. Ottolenghi’s mejadra recipe from his book Jerusalem also uses these same crispy onions to good effect. As I suggested previously, take the time to make additional crispy onions as everyone will want to add some more, once they get a taste.
Regular readers will know that I am a huge fan of Yotam Ottolenghi. His food is interesting, easy to make and offers an insight into other cultures. I’m such a fan that I have a tab on this blog dedicated to recipes of his that I’ve recreated. I recommend serving this dish with an accompaniment of tangy yoghurt and a tart tamarind chutney, alongside some fresh Turkish bread for a complete vegetarian meal. If you’re serving this with meat, a whole chicken dry rubbed with ground cumin powder and salt and then roasted, is a good option.
- 250g flat green or brown lentils (not French puy)
- 200g basmati rice
- 350ml water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tspn cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp tumeric, ground
- 1 1/2 tsp allspice, ground
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 1tsp sugar
- 4 – 6 medium onions, peeled and finely sliced
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- approx 250ml canola or sunflower oil (to crisp onions)
- salt and pepper to season
- Place the lentils in a small saucepan, cover with plenty of water and cook for 12 – 15 minutes then drain. Lentils should be firm and retain their shape so do not overcook.
- Combine finely sliced onions and flour in a bag or bowl. Mix thoroughly until all slices are coated and shake off excess flour.
- Heat vegetable oil over a medium high heat in a medium, heavy based saucepan. Oil is ready when a piece of onions sizzles.
- Place some of the onion in the pan and cook vigorously until onion browns and is crisp. Remove from the pan and drain in a colander lined with paper towel.
- Repeat with remaining onion until it is all browned and crisped. Do not overcrowd the pan and watch it carefully whilst cooking. The onion will brown quickly. You are after golden, not burnt.
- Drain out excess oil from the saucepan and wipe it clean. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds for a minute or two then ass the rice, olive oil, tumeric, allspice, cinnamon, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper.
- Stir to coat the rice with oil, then add the drained cooked lentils. Bring to the boil and cover with a lid. Simmer on a very low heat for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, lift off the lid and cover the pan with a clean tea towel. Replace the lid and set the Mejadra aside, covered, for 10 minutes.
- When ready to serve the Mejadra, add half of the crispy onions to the rice and lentils and fork through. Turn onto a serving platter and scatter another quarter of the crispy onions on top. Serve with a bowl of remaining crispy onions.
Serves 6 (as a meal) – 10 (as a side)
*If you are interested in purchasing Jerusalem or any of Yotam’s other cookbooks, click on the link. It will take you to 100% Aussie owned bookseller Dymocks – I receive a small commission via this link for any books purchased within 30 days of clicking.