If the south has a lighter, sweeter version in mujadra safra, the north has it at the opposite end of the spectrum, dark and thick! The Northern Lebanese version of mujadara is made with red beans instead of lentils and coarse bulgur instead of rice. And the secret is in the caramelized onions, which will caramelize for more than an hour and will give a special taste and the color to this dish. The other secret to Northern Lebanese mujadara is the loubiyieh jordieh, a special kind of red bean planted at high altitude, of a pale brown color, that will turn to deep red when boiled. Pink kidney beans are a good substitute. This is simple cooking barely more than three ingredients!
- 1 cup (250 g) dried pink kidney beans
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons (30 g) coarse-grind bulgur
- Kamal Mouzawak
Wash and drain the pink beans and put in a pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. When it starts boiling, add 1 cup (235 ml) cold water; it is said that this “shock” of cold water will help the beans cook faster.
Meanwhile, very finely chop the onions. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep skillet over medium-low heat and sauté the onions in the oil. The onions must be stirred constantly after they start to color, to make sure they caramelize evenly. To caramelize the onions takes time and patience, up to an hour, and the end result must be a thick onion paste of a deep caramel color.
Take the onions out of the oil, leaving excess oil behind, and add them to the beans when nearly cooked. If the chopped onions did not melt into a paste, run them through a blender. Add the bulgur, and season to taste with salt. Add water if needed—it must cover the mixture in the pot by 2 fingers. Cook until the bulgur is cooked and the mixture is still a bit liquidy; the end result must be a bit runny, as it will set as it cools. Serve hot or at room temperature.