I love moujaddara. To me, it is one of the main dishes that define Lebanese cuisine in its ingredients, identity and flavors. It is one of the healthiest dishes ever invented and is made with extremely simple ingredients; boiled lentils, onions, olive oil and salt. Some people add rice to it while it’s cooking while others add bulgur, but these two ingredients do not really come forward taste wise; they’re more used for the consistency of the dish.
Moujaddara has a very earthy taste and needs to be balanced with acidic flavors for it to leave its mark on your taste buds. By itself, it is very enjoyable but when mixed with the right salads, it turns into a stellar taste explosion. So my dear readers, I have noted down below my favorite salads that are oh-so-good with moujaddara!
- Wild thyme and onions: it is made of velvety thyme leaves, chopped onions, lemon juice, olive oil and salt, and is the best thing you can eat with moujaddara! It will add notes of acidity from the lemon juice and a kick from the sharpness of thyme leaves and onions. Just try it, ok?
- Tomato and cucumber salad: it is made with tomatoes (get tomatoes that actually smell and taste like tomatoes and not the bland ones that are tasteless), cucumbers, dried mint, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. It will add crunch to a rather mushy dish, notes of sweetness from the tomatoes and the usual acidity of the lemon juice.
- Cabbage salad: this one is very simple and takes less than 5 minutes to prepare. It’s made of chopped cabbage leaves, lemon juice, oil and salt, and goes incredibly well with moujaddara.
- Pickled caper branches: here comes the unusual element :). If you’ve been reading me for a while, you know I always introduce unusual foods in my posts. You know capers, right? The ones usually served with smoked salmon in restaurants… Well, those very capers come from the caper bush that grows everywhere in Lebanon. You will find it on most roadsides and in the wilderness. We even have a plant in our parking lot! My mom actually picks the branches of the plant, washes them and pickles them just like cucumbers, cauliflower, etc. After a while, they become soft and even their thorns are edible. Since they’re soaked in vinegar to get pickled, they’re very acidic, so you need to add a little olive oil to them. Enjoy them with moujaddara to get an out-of-this-world taste experience.
- Makdous or oil-cured eggplants: I reckon this is not a salad, but makdous with moujaddara is just perfect! Imagine the combination of moujaddara’s earthiness and makdous’ tanginess and how they will mix together! The walnuts, red pepper and garlic in the makdous make up for one of the richest taste combinations ever. Mix that with moujaddara and you’ve got yourself one hell of a treat!
Voila! I hope you will taste my recommendations soon and let me know your thoughts!