A few years ago, I went primarily plant-based for a few weeks. At that time, I was constantly looking for new food options. Mujadara is a plant-based options that has remained a favorite of mine. What is there not love about rice that is cooked with onions and spices? The other thing I always loved about this dish is the blend of lentils and rice. I sometimes feel guilty about eating white rice but the addition of the lentils boosts the nutritional profile. A few months ago, I put together a version of mujadara that features one of my favorite spices, chipotle pepper.
I usually like using chipotle pepper to add some heat and some smokiness to food. The chipotle pepper is another staple of my pantry. It is not an ingredient that I grew up cooking with. But as with most of the foods that I cycle into my diet intermittently, I found chipotle from a recipe a few years ago and I haven’t looked back. Chipotle peppers, at least the version I use, comes in adobo sauce. I love it because it lasts a long time in the fridge. The adobo sauce also adds a layer of flavor to the rice, lentils, and corn in the Mujadara.
For this Mujadara, which is basically chipotle rice with lentils and corn, I build flavor into the dish by starting with caramelized onions. The onions sliced thinly and caramelized slowly over a few minutes before I add in cumin. This leads to a well-rounded dish that is both truly savory but has moments of sweetness from the onions and the corn. I also like to top off the cooked rice, lentil and corn with a sprinkle of crunchy onions. This is a good way to use up that lingering half-used can of fried onions from thanksgiving.
Mujadara is great for meal prep. The flavors do well when cooked ahead. Plus, with a conservative sprinkle of water, a plate of chipotle rice with lentils and corn warms up nice and fluffy in a microwave.
Spicy Chipotle Mujadara
- 1 Cup Long Grain Rice I use basmati but any long grain rice should work
- 1 Cup Lentils* Cooked
- 1 Onion (medium sized)
- 1 Chipotle Pepper Chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic crushed
- 1 tbsp Cumin Seeds
- 1/4 tsp Cumin Powder
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1.5 cups Water/Broth
- 1/2 Cup Frozen Corn
- 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika Powder
- 1 Sprig/tsp Thyme
- 1 tsp Salt
- Pour olive oil into a shallow pot and set on low to medium heat. Add in onion slices and half of salt.
- Allow onion slices to caramelize slowly. Stirring frequently to prevent burning. This should take just under five minutes. Add cumin seeds and stir. Add in the chopped chipotle pepper, garlic, and the rinsed rice. Stir.
- Into the rice, add the cumin powder, smoked paprika powder, salt, and thyme. Pour in the water or broth. Bring to a low boil then cover.
- Allow rice to cook on low heat until liquid is fully absorbed. This should take about 15-18 minutes.
- Uncover the rice and add in the cooked lentils as well as the frozen corn. Cover again to allow corn to heat through. This should take about 4-5 minutes on low heat.
- Uncover the rice again, check that liquid is completely dry before turning off the heat. Fluff the rice, stirring in the lentils and corn evenly.
- Serve the Chipotle Mujadara. I love to top mine with crispy fried onions.