Chapter Seventeen – “Mjadarah. Mjadarah?!!”

At Ingo’s leaving dinner last night, we realised we were yet to plan this week’s lunches… at all. So we put it to the room and it was quickly decided (based on how “quick and easy” it was) that Mohamad would teach us to make Mjadarah, a Syrian rice and lentil dish, served with fried onions. We agreed to start at 1 o’clock and didn’t panic (too much) when Mohamad left the OH to go to the shops at 12.45. At 1.30 there was still no sign of Mohamad, so we ran upstairs to wake up Mariam before starting to cluelessly slice onions whilst we waited. Luckily, the tabah (you should all know what this means by now, if you don’t then you haven’t been reading this blog religiously enough) soon arrived and we followed him into the kitchen, buckets of onions in hand. After much deliberation over the lentil to rice to water ratio, cooking was underway. We needn’t have panicked as it was quick, easy and the tabah had everything under control. Really, all we did was get in the way; slicing too many onions, putting too little oil, and impatiently lifting the lid off the rice and lentil pot. Lesson learnt: too many (British) tabahs spoil Mohamad’s Mjadarah. And the proof was in the Mjadarah… when we carried it upstairs to serve, the word echoed throughout the room as people excitedly filled their bowls and stood around enjoying Mohamad’s Magnificent Mjadarah.

Mohamad’s Magnificent Mjadarah (served 30)

  • 6 large onions, halved then thinly sliced
  • 8 small cups green lentils
  • 15 small cups rice
  • 22 small cups water (we think)
  • A lot of oil
  • Surprisingly little salt
  1. Try to find someone who knows how to make Mjadarah whilst you wait for Mohamad to get back
  2. Start slicing onions anyway and soak rice and lentils in preparation
  3. Once Mjadarah Mohamad has arrived, start cooking…
  4. Put lentils into a big saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil, cook until soft
  5. Add rice and water (it took 3 people and a lot of calculations to work out you need about 1 1/2 cups water to every 1 cup rice), stir once and cover
  6. DON’T LIFT THE LID (“we NEVER open the lid”)
  7. Meanwhile, put half an inch of oil into a saucepan, or if you’re cooking for 30, two saucepans
  8. Fry onions in batches until crispy and drain on kitchen towel
  9. Fetch more oil from storage to fry the rest of the huge bowl of onions
  10. Open the lid after maybe 10 minutes if Mohamad lets you
  11. Once rice is cooked, pour the onion oil into the rice and mix well
  12. Serve with crispy onions and…

Laban w ghear 

  • 500g yoghurt
  • 2 small cucumbers, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Water
  1. Put yoghurt in a bowl
  2. Grate cucumbers into yoghurt (surgical gloves optional, Daisy had just applied hand sanitiser and funnily enough no one likes the taste of hand san)
  3. Stir in garlic and enough water to give a ladleable consistency
  4. Serve with chopped cabbage and lemon salad


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