happiness is...

happiness is...
kenya 2010

Sunday, January 8, 2012

variety is the spice of life (a.k.a. day 6 and my niece just saved my life)

it is day 6 of the nepali eating experiment, and i think my niece just saved my life. at the very least, she saved my palate. yesterday, i was musing about how i thought i would try something a little different with my eating resolution, and allow myself to be creative with the food combinations as long as the ingredients are all things that are available in rural nepal. if and when i go for an extended period, i will be doing most of my own cooking, so this could be a better taste (pardon the pun) of what the food experience will be like for me while i'm there. i am still wanting to keep it simple and use the basic ingredients (lentils, potatoes, rice, root vegetables, etc...) but i need to add some variety of taste or i run the real risk of stopping eating pretty much altogether. anyway....

...that is where my niece, kathy, comes into the picture. she commented on one of my posts and added a recipe for a dish called mjeddrah that uses the basic ingredients, but in a way that was unusual. i will admit, it sounded a bit disgusting to me. not because of the lentil and rice based stew, or because of the salad type fresh veggies, or because of the "dressing"- but because you TOP the hot stew with the cold salad and pour the dressing all over the top. um?!!?
 i searched the web and found oodles of other mjeddrah recipes, many of which included the salad and dressing in the one-dish stew. if others are doing it, how bad can it be? i decided to give it a whirl. i used elements from kathy's recipe that weren't in some of the others (celery and carrots), and i used an online recipe for the dressing instead of using commercially prepared vinaigrette as hers calls for. i also used a bed of spinach instead of lettuce since i can find evidence that spinach is more readily available in rural nepal than lettuce. can i tell you something?

the results were spectacular!!!! i know i'm hungry, and i know i am craving variety, but as i was eating this dish, i was thinking that it was perhaps one of my favorite meals to-date. that is saying something, because i love my food! below is the "karin version" of mjeddrah, nepali style.

  • in large pot or dutch oven, heat 3 Tbsp oil or ghee
  • sautee 2 cups chopped onion and 2 cloves minced garlic for 2-3 minutes
  • add 1 cup chopped carrots and 1 cup chopped celery (optional) and sautee for another 2-3 minutes
  • add 3/4 cup brown rice (i actually used long grain and wild rice) and sautee together until onions are translucent and rice opaque, and veggies start to soften (5ish minutes)

  • add 1 1/2 cups green lentils (any color would work) and 4 1/2 cups water.
  • add 1/2 tsp salt, and sprinkle of spices, if you desire. i added about 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin, and 1/2 tsp curry
  • bring to a boil and then cover and reduce heat and simmer for 45-50 minutes, until rice and lentils are tender and thick consistency is obtained.

while stew cooks, make dressing (2-4 servings):
whisk together the following-
  • 6 Tbsp oil (i used grapeseed but olive, canola, etc...would work too)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard or 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp honey or agave nectar
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp chili garlic paste (or shiracha chili sauce...this is optional but adds a nice zing)

place 1 cup fresh spinach on plate/bowl. top with stew. add "salad fixins" (ie: chopped red onion, chopped red pepper, cucumber, chopped tomatoes, chopped green onion) on top of stew, and drizzle dressing over the entire thing.

once you tire of eating the mjeddrah this way, add broth or water and turn into soup.

variety- the spice of life. thank you kathy!


  1. You can thank my mom for going through a vegetarian stage when I was a kid.

  2. You're welcome. I wasn't a vegetarian when I got that recipe, but I was taking a holistic health class and the teacher was one. I was a vegetarian when Kathy was about 2-5 years old.

    Have lots of recipes you can use! Need to know what's available and what type of cooking conditions -- wood stove? grill? outdoor? electricity (maybe not)? Love, D