Mejadra with pistachios and raisins. Photograph: Alan Betson

Mejadra with pistachios and raisins. Photograph: Alan Betson

Sat, Mar 29, 2014, 01:00

  • Serves: 8
  • Cooking Time: 60 mins
  • Course: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: Turkish/Middle Eastern


  • 250g green lentils
  • 4 large onions, very finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp plain flour (you can use gluten-free)
  • 250ml sunflower oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 knob butter
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • Good pinch each of turmeric, allspice and cinnamon
  • 200g basmati rice
  • 300ml water
  • 50-100g raisins
  • Juice of 1-2 lemons
  • Handful pistachio nuts
  • Bunch coriander, finely chopped (optional)


Soak the lentils in cold water for 10 minutes. Change the water and bring to boil for ten minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

Place the flour in a large bowl, add the onions and toss till well coated. Sieve to remove the excess flour.

Heat the sunflower oil in a pan till it’s very hot and, stirring regularly, fry the floured onions in batches until they’re crisp and golden brown.

Drain on kitchen paper, season well and set aside. Heat the olive oil and butter in a saucepan, then add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, allspice and cinnamon. Add the uncooked rice and coat well in the oil and spice mix. Next, add the cooked lentils and the water, along with the raisins.Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes (or check cooking instructions on the packet of rice).

Remove the lid and take the pan off the heat. The rice now needs to steam a bit, so put a tea towel over the top of the pan, place the lid over it and leave for about 10 minutes.

Stir only with a fork as this keeps it fluffy. Add half the cooked onions and the lemon juice, taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve garnished with the rest of the onions and the pistachios scattered on top, plus some chopped coriander.

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