An Edible Mosaic

An Edible Mosaic {Giveaway} + Mujaddara

by AmandaCarter in Contests, Featured Articles, Recipes

I love Middle Eastern food. Just thinking about warm pita bread, creamy hummus and crispy falafel makes my mouth water. But as much as I enjoy Middle Eastern cuisine, I only eat it at restaurants—I never make it at home. Even though many of the dishes seem fairly simple, I’ve always been intimidated by some of the more unusual ingredients and unfamiliar techniques involved in Middle Eastern cooking.

That’s why I’m excited about Faith Gorsky’s new cookbook, An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair. Faith learned about Middle Eastern cooking from her Syrian mother-in-law, and she passes on her passion and knowledge in this beautiful, informative book. It begins with sections detailing special cooking techniques, tools and ingredients with lots of images and straightforward, accessible descriptions. These instructional sections are followed by over 100 recipes ranging from salads and sides to entrees and desserts, and including both familiar foods like Chicken Kebabs as well as less well-known dishes such as Bell Pepper Walnut Dip. Each recipe is introduced with a note from Faith providing cultural context and cooking or serving tips. There’s even a list of recommended shops for getting Middle Eastern ingredients (though many items could be found in most natural food stores). All in all, An Edible Mosaic gives you the information and inspiration you need to start exploring Middle Eastern cooking at home with confidence.

Giveaway – This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to winners Ron, Rebecca and Tammy!

Would you like to win a copy of An Edible Mosaic? To enter the contest, leave a comment on this post answering this question: What is your favorite Middle Eastern dish? To help you get started with these tasty recipes, we’ll also send you a Bob’s Red Mill prize package including Lentils, Garbanzo Beans, Bulgur and Basmati Rice.  We’ll pick 3 winners from those of you who enter by 11:59 pm on Tuesday, 11/6. Good luck!

We’re happy to be able to share a recipe from An Edible Mosaic with you here. It’s a flavorful vegetarian dish that can easily be made gluten free by substituting rice for the bulgur. Enjoy!

Lentil and Bulgur Pilaf with Caramelized Onion (Mujaddara Burghul)

This hearty pilaf is commonly eaten as a vegetarian meal, with little else besides a bowl of plain yogurt and maybe some sliced tomato, cucumber and/or onion to accompany it. It’s eaten in many Middle Eastern countries and my husband remembers children singing a song about it in middle school while growing up in Syria. For an easy variation on this dish, use white or brown rice instead of bulgur wheat.

Serves 4 to 6

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 50 minutes, plus 10 minutes to let the bulgur sit after cooking

1 1/3 cups (275 g) dried brown lentils (or 2 cans brown lentils, rinsed and drained)

6 cups (1.5 liters) water

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

2 large onions, quartered and thinly sliced

1 bay leaf

2 pods cardamom, cracked open

2 cloves

2 teaspoons ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup (185 g) coarse-ground bulgur wheat

1 ½ cups (300 ml) boiling water

Plain yogurt (optional, for serving)

1 Sort through the lentils to remove any small stones or pieces of dirt, then rinse with cold water in a colander. Bring the rinsed lentils and the water to a boil in a lidded medium saucepan. Cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to a simmer, and cook until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water as necessary so that they’re always immerse; strain.

2 While the lentils cook, heat the oil and the butter in a large skilled over moderately high heat; add the onion and sauté until completely softened but not yet browned, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer half the onion to a small bowl and set aside. Continue cooking the remaining onion until deep caramel in color, about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a splash of water as necessary if the onion starts to get too dark. Set aside.

3 Put half a kettle of water on to boil. Transfer the sautéed onion (no the caramelized onion) to a medium saucepan. Add the bay leave, cardamom, clove, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper and cook 1 minute. Add the bulgur and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Add the boiling water, turn the heat up to high, and bring to a rolling boil.

4 Give the bulgur a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time). Turn the heat off and let the bulgur sit 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and gently stir in the lentils. Taste and add additional salt, pepper and olive oil if desired.

5 Transfer to a serving dish and top with the caramelized onion. Serve with plain yogurt to spoon on top, if desired.

For more recipes from Faith Gorsky, visit her blog,

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101 Responses to “An Edible Mosaic {Giveaway} + Mujaddara”

  1. a mezze plate with baba, hummos, roasted vegetables, etc is my favorite dinner in the whole world!

  2. I don’t know if I have enough experience with Middle Eastern Food to give a favorite. I do love falafel and hummus as well as lentils.

    This cookbook would be a great way to start learning more about Middle Eastern Cuisine!

  3. I do not eat a lot of middle eastern foods, but love the cuisine! I need to win this so I can have a cookbook to guide me! also love bobs red mill products… fab giveaway!!

  4. Shawarma!! I also love baba ghanoush, one of my favorite local restaurants makes it chunky so it’s almost more like an eggplant salsa than a creamy spread… mmm!

  5. Oh my gosh, all of it!I was born and raised in Brasil where there is a huge (the largest anywhere) Lebanese population in the world, and my grandma, although of no Middle Eastern descent, worked for several Middle Eastern families (as a housekeeper, cook, etc) and a lot of her cuisine included falafel, grape stuffed leaves among others. So stuffed grape leaves, any lentil dishes, curries, rice, anything with chickpeas…. the spices… Hard to pick one!

  6. Freshly made warm pita bread and red pepper humus is our favorite snack. I’m always looking for new recipes to try and will be making the featured pilaf recipe soon!

  7. I enjoy hummus and am looking forward to making shawarma sometime. Thanks for the opportunity to win Faith’s cookbook! Her recipes looks delicious!

  8. Stuffed grape leaves, ANYTHING with lentils, or of course falafel! This cookbook looks wonderful, I always love her recipes!

  9. Do I have to pick a favorite? I love making baba & hummus, mujadarra, kefta and kibbe. Chicken schawarma with garlic sauce makes me swoon! And stay away from the pickled turnips colored with beets! They are MINE!!!! 🙂

  10. I love the spices used. That’s why I would love a cookbook so I could duplicate the flavors. Hummus, tabouli, anything with tzatziki sauce, schwarma….the list is long.

  11. yum….lentils, rice, onions and seasoning….a hearty plant based meal!!! I’d love to win and cook more middle eastern food!

  12. Definitely beef shawarma. It’s a popular takeaway type of food in the area I live in, and it’s also our family’s guilty pleasure for a midnight snack option, or when we stay up to watch the World Cup or football games. It’s simple to make, and there are many stores around us that make it, and the true and distinct flavours and aromas are delicious!

  13. Although I love it all so much, I can’t get past the simple Shawarma as my favorite…. and The pickled beets that top the whole shawarma is my favorite part of this favorite dish!

  14. My favourite Middle-Eastern dish has to be a plate of Koshary, which is a famous vegetarian dish from Egypt. It is similar to Mujaddarah, and contains rice, lentils, onions and pasta.
    I love Koshary as it has a delicious garlicky tomato sauce, and I enjoy it with a spoon of yogurt, all washed down with a glass of fresh mango juice. Delicious!