Food stories: Mujadara


Mujadara is a common middle eastern dish that typically consists of cooked lentils together with groats, generally rice, and garnished with sautéed onions. Mujadara, alternatively written as Mujaddara (in Arabic مجدرة), is literally translated to mean “pockmarked” or “riddled with small holes” because the lentils in it look like pockmarks. It is also nicknamed “the dish of the poor” as it doesn’t include any meat or expensive ingredients and is one of the most popular dishes of Syrian cuisine, but also Israeli, Lebanese, Egyptian, Jordanian and Iraqi.

The first recorded recipe for the mujaddara appears in Kitab al-Tabikh, meaning “cookbook” in Arabic. It was written in 1226 by Mohammed bin Hassan al-Baghdadi in Iraq. Besides being known as the “dish of the poor”, mujaddara is also called “Esau’s favourite”. Esau was a character from the Bible who was known for selling his birthright to his younger brother on a day when he was extremely famished for only a dish of pottage. As a result of this history and the importance of mujadara in Arab culture, there is a saying in the eastern Arab world that says: “A hungry man would sell his soul for a dish of mujaddara”.

Tomato Salad:

Tomato salad is a delicious side dish that comes with your meal this week. There has always a popular debate over whether tomatoes should be considered fruits or vegetables. In fact, in 1887, U.S. tariff laws imposed a duty on vegetables, but not on fruits. The issue of tomato as a fruit or vegetable became a legal matter of importance. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually ruled that tomatoes were to be considered vegetables, based on the popular definition that says that vegetables should be classified by use and since they are usually served with dinner and not as a dessert, they should be considered vegetables. However, since the courts did not reclassify the tomato botanically, it is still considered a fruit because the tomato has seeds and grows from a flowering plant so it is classed as a fruit, not a vegetable.