Sprouted Lentils and Brown Rice Mejadra Before the Tisha B'Av Fast

Round dishes, symbolizing the circle of life, appear in many Jewish communities around the world, such as lentils in Sephardi and Mizrahi communities.

Vered Guttman

The fast of Tisha B’Av that starts on Monday at sundown commemorates multiple tragedies in the Jewish history. The destructions of the first and second temples, as well as the Roman massacre of the Jews of Bettar in 132, the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 and from England in 1290, all believed to have happened on the ninth day (tisha in Hebrew) of the Jewish month of Av.

As with all other Jewish holidays and commemorative dates, there is special mourning fare even for the last meal before the fast of Tisha B’Av. It’s interesting to see how round dishes, symbolizing the circle of life, appear in many Jewish communities around the world, lentils and eggs in the Sephardi and Mizrahi communities, bagels in the Ashkenazi ones. These modest foods seem to be especially appropriate to the national mood at the moment.

There are many version for mejadra or kichri, the dish most associated with Tisha B’av. It consists of either rice or bulgar cooked with lentils, and topped with fried onion or yogurt. This year I tried a health-conscience version with sprouted lentils and brown rice.

Sprouting legumes and lentils increase their nutrient content, and it’s easy to do at home. The instructions are in the recipe below.

Sprouted lentils and brown rice mejadra

Lentils are easy to sprout, but the process does take 36 hours. One and a half cups of lentils will yield about 4 cups of sprouted lentils. Since this recipe calls for only 2 cups of the sprouted lentils, you can keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for a week, and use in other recipes as you would with regular lentils.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 1⁄2 cups dried French lentils

1 cup brown rice

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

11⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 yellow onions, cut in half and sliced thinly

2 teaspoon light brown sugar

DIRECTIONS

1. 36 hours (and up to a week) before you plan to cook the mejadra, soak lentils inplenty of water and let sit for 12 hours or overnight. Strain the water and leave lentils in a colander for 24 hours, washing them in running water twice throughout the day, then mixing. After 24 hours you will see small sprouts out of the lentils. Keep 2 cups for the recipe, and save the leftovers in the fridge for up to a week. You can also continue the sprouting process for a couple more days, washing the mixing the lentils twice a day. You’ll get much longer sprouts.

2. Cook brown rice with one tablespoon oil, the salt and 21⁄2 cups of boiling water for 30 minutes in a covered pot over low heat. Add sprouted lentils, mix, cover the pot and continue to cook for another 10 minutes more. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for another 10 minutes.

3. While the rice and lentils are cooking, sauté the onions in 4 tablespoons oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-low heat, until nicely browned. Add brown sugar for the last two minutes of sautéing and remove from the heat.

4. When the mejadra is ready, mix in 3⁄4 of the sautéed onion, transfer to a serving bowl and top with the rest of the onion. Serve warm or at room temperature.