Fakes moutzentra is a lentil recipe we make in Cyprus and is a high protein, balanced healthy food, especially with the combination of rice. In Greece they make a similar recipe in the Aegean islands which is called Fakoryzo, meaning lentils and rice.
I remember when my mother used to make moutzentra, she would fry lots of onions until caramelized and mix them in. However, I also remember how we used to hate the onions when we were young and since we did not eat them she would also fry some eggs for us. When my children were younger, they didn’t like them either, so in order that my children would start eating them, I would not let the onion brown completely so that it would not be visible in the plate.
We also make the same dish substituting rice with any kind of small pasta in it, especially orzo.
Until recently, I used to think that this is the Cypriot recipe but finding recipes all over the world I found out that a lentil and rice dish is referred to in the Middle East as mujaddara or mejadra and I now know that Cypriot cuisine, has some middle eastern influence.
In Cyprus we use the brown lentils which do not need to be previously soaked in water. These lentils are cooked very easily, however depending on where you live, you may have to soak the lentils overnight.
Fakes Moutjentra – Cypriot Lentils with Rice
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
- 2 cups brown lentils
- 2 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/3 cup short grained rice (Carolina or glacé)
- 1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- ½ vegetable bouillon (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Clean the lentils as sometimes small stones may be found in the package and then wash and drain them.
- Boil in a pot with enough water to cover them, together with bay leaf, for ten minutes.
- Drain them, add fresh water (just to cover them, about 2 cups) and vegetable bouillon and bring to a boil again. Lower heat and cook for 15 minutes.
- Add the rice, salt and pepper, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, mixing every now and then.
- Meantime, in a 23 cm (9”) non-stick frying pan heat the olive oil and sauté the onions until they caramelize and start to turn to brown. When the rice is cooked, add the caramelized onions with the oil, stir and remove from the heat.
- Allow to cool for ten minutes and then serve hot.
Note: It is better to prepare the dish a short while before eating because otherwise all water will be absorbed and will become very thick and dry.
The recipe is included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste as well as in Volume 1 of my e-cookbook.
A fan plate for the children
Other relevant recipes:
Fakokeftedes (lentil burgers) with leftover “Moudjentra”
Fakes soupa (lentil soup)
Kritharaki me Fakes kai Pasto (Orzo with Lentils and Smoked Pork)
Brown Lentils with Carrots and Caramelized onions
Coconut Red Lentil Soup
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,