wild rice

Tahini Turmeric and Mjadra


I have made mjadra (mujadara) so often I can't even count the ways. It's a family favorite that I serve on special occasions (the #1 item at my Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast), at somber times (the Nine Days), for holidays (my Thanksgiving vegetarian entree) and sometimes just for any old meatless meal. 

I've made mujadara using bulgur wheat and brown rice, barley and kaniwa

But I never made it with wild rice or with white rice. In fact, I hadn't even thought about that possibility until I got Vicky Cohen and Ruth Fox's new cookbook: tahini & turmeric; 101 Middle Eastern Classics Made Irresistibly Vegan.

This is one gorgeous book, stuffed with recipes that anyone who loves good food, or who is kosher or a vegetarian or even a hearty carnivore and even a vegan-skeptic would find -- yes -- irresistible.

There were (still are) so many recipes I want to try. I've followed Vicky and Ruth's blog for years and have cooked many of the dishes in their posts, every one of them a winner.

But when I saw the recipe for Mjadra, I knew that had to be the first from the book.

It was as delicious as any version of this dish I have ever tried. The addition of pomegranate molasses to the onions gave the dish a faint, lush tang. The authors suggest one of two sauces to accompany the grains. I prepared the (vegan) Cucumber Yogurt Sauce (which is also paired in the book with Zucchini Fritters -- a delicious-sounding recipe that I will try next to see how the taste compares with my own, non-vegan version).

Every recipe sounds and looks tempting. Over the summer I will try my hand at the Tangy Roasted Carrot Hummus -- a quick and easy hors d'oeuvre for the company I am sure to have. And because I love all versions of Shakshuka, I will definitely try the interesting Chickpea and Pepper Shashuka -- with rounds of polenta taking the place of the traditional eggs! (It's the recipe on the book cover.) Before the High Holidays I am going to try the spectacular-sounding Creamy Tahini Cheesecake with Pistachio Crust and Fresh Pomegranate. 

I could go on and on. I rarely post about cookbooks, but this one is special, and comes in handy particularly this week, when the Nine Days begin and observant Jews will be eating meatless meals. 

Good luck with the book Vicky and Ruth!


Our take on this classic Middle Eastern dish incorporates wild rice and sautéed on-ions, as opposed to fried, for a healthier version. We also cook the rice, lentils, and onions separately, and then mix them together right before serving. This is a fool-proof method to prevent the mjadra from becoming mushy.

Traditionally, this dish is served topped with a cucumber yogurt sauce, which we made using nondairy yogurt (see Zucchini Fritters with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce, page 26). While we were growing up, our dad always ate it with his favorite Spicy Israeli Salsa (page 62), made with freshly picked tomatoes and cucumbers from his garden.

Store in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 50 minutes

Makes 6 to 8 servings



½ cup uncooked wild rice

½ teaspoon salt


1 cup dried French green lentils,

picked over and rinsed well

½ teaspoon salt


1 cup uncooked basmati rice

1 teaspoon salt


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, sliced

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

            (see page 132 for homemade)

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce (page 26) or Spicy Israeli Salsa (page 62), to serve

Prepare the wild rice: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan over high heat. Add the wild rice and salt. Bring again to a boil, lower the heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 40 to 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the heat, drain well, and set aside.

Prepare the lentils: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the lentils and salt. Lower the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft but not mushy. Remove from the heat, drain well, and set aside.

Prepare the basmati rice: In a medium-size saucepan, bring 1½ cups of water to a boil in a separate medium-size saucepan over high heat. Add the basmati rice and salt. Return to a boil, lower the heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, until the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from the heat and set aside, covered.

Prepare the onion: Heat the olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet. Add the sliced onion, salt, and pepper, and cook over high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes. Add the pomegranate molasses and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, or until the onion turns dark golden brown.

Assemble the mjadra: Combine the cooked wild and basmati rice, the cooked lentils, and the onion in a large bowl, and toss well. Serve warm, topped with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce or Spicy Israeli Salsa.

Referenced recipes:


½ cup plain unsweetened coconut or CASHEW YOGURT

1½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ teaspoon salt

1 small cucumber, peeled and cut into small dice


1 pound assorted colored tomatoes, diced small

5 to 6 Persian cucumbers, diced small

2 to 3 jalapeño peppers, diced small

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ to ½ teaspoon salt


6 cups pomegranate juice

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the temperature to a low boil and cook, uncovered, for 2 hours, or until the liquid has reduced to about one third. Keep an eye on it, so it doesn’t overflow.

Remove from the heat, let cool, and transfer to a glass jar with a tight lid. The molasses will thicken once cooled.

Store in the refrigerator for up to six months.

Excerpted from Tahini and Turmeric: 101 Middle Eastern Classics—Made Irresistibly Vegan by Ruth Fox and Vicky Cohen. Copyright © 2018. Available from Da Capo Lifelong Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

The Silver Platter Simple Elegance Cookbook

The older I get, the easier my recipes become. Years ago I was willing to trek through a 3-pager with multiple steps. I made dishes such as French Onion Soup only after preparing my own stock. I was willing to put together a long-winded recipe for Paris-Brest.

No longer. I don't have the time, energy or patience -- and will leave those wonderful, worthy chores to younger folks. These days I create recipes that are simple, flavorful and interesting, but without taking shortcuts that would detract from the food.

I also appreciate when other people share the same ideals, which is why I love "The Silver Platter Simple Elegance," a new cookbook from the kitchen of Daniella Silver, with tips and notes from Norene Gilletz, renowned food blogger, cookbook author and matriarch of kosher cooking.

This is not merely a book where you can pick up a good recipe or two. Every recipe is approachable, using ingredients that even novice cooks will find familiar, with selections that are perfect for everyday cooking and many that are suitable for entertaining: Zucchini Dill Soup and Flaked Quinoa Schnitzel and Mustard-and-Garlic Roasted Potatoes and Granola Ice Cream Cake are just a few, glorious but easy finds that will make your family happy at dinnertime.

There's more: at the bottom of each recipe are tips from the master, Norene Gilletz, on such topics as what equipment is best to use, what can be done ahead, what substitutions are appropriate, how to make an everyday dish more company-friendly, and so on. 

The photos are gorgeous too.

The first recipe that caught my eye is the one for Candied Cauliflower. Can you imagine such a thing?! With but 5 ingredients (not including salt and pepper), this sounded too fabulous to miss, and it was every bit as delicious as it looks on the page. (And includes tips on buying cauliflower and nut-seed substitutions.)

Next, the Mango Wild Rice, because I love any dish with mango in it. This recipe is fairly simple, colorful, flavorful and with the bonus that you can cook it ahead. One of Norene's tips is to substitute dried apricots for the dried mango, but I used fresh mango instead. The recipe is versatile too!

Taste for yourself: Here are the two recipes I found particularly worthy. The recipes and photos are reproduced from The Silver Platter Simple Elegance by Daniella Silver with Norene Gilletz, with permission from the copyright holders. ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications, LTD.

Another thought -- this book make a delicious Hanukkah gift for someone who likes to cook.



pareve, Passover, gluten-free, do not freeze, yields 6 servings


Candied cauliflower, drizzled with honey and thyme and topped with sliced almonds, is a beautiful dish that will keep your guests coming back for more. I suggest you double the recipe!



  • 1 large cauliflower, trimmed

  • kosher salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

  • 3 Tbsp honey

  • ½ cup sliced almonds

  • thyme sprigs, for garnish




1.  Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  Cut cauliflower into 2-inch florets. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. 

3.  Sprinkle florets with salt, pepper, and thyme. Drizzle with oil and honey. Top with sliced almonds. Rub all over to coat evenly. (Can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated.)

 4.  Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes, or until cauliflower is golden brown and tender. Serve immediately.


Norene’s Notes:


Variation: Use pecan pieces or coarsely chopped cashews instead of almonds. If you have a nut allergy, substitute pumpkin seeds.


Hot Stuff: Don’t worry about the almonds burning. The steam created during cooking prevents that from happening. If your oven is on the hot side, you may prefer to stir in the almonds during the last 15 minutes of baking.




pareve, gluten-free, freezes well, yields 8 servings


My three girls are in love with mango, and this wild rice dish has become their latest obsession. The nutty flavor of wild rice is a perfect match for sweet mango and red onion. The dried mango plumps up a bit when marinated in the dressing, adding some softness to the texture of this dish.



  • 4 cups water
  • 1½ cups wild rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ medium red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 12 dried mango slices, thinly sliced into strips
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ cup orange or mango juice
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper




1.  Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add rice and salt; cover. Reduce heat; simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the grains split and burst. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Drain, if necessary. Transfer to a large bowl; let cool.

2.  Add onion, dried mangoes, and cranberries. Stir in oil, orange juice, honey, parsley, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


Norene’s Notes:


Variation: Since wild rice is fairly expensive, you can use ¾ cup wild rice and ¾ cup whole grain brown rice — their cooking time is about the same.

No dried mango? Substitute dried apricots.

Wild rice is gluten-free, fiber-packed, and high in protein and B vitamins. Elegance in health!

An easy way to cut dried mango is to use kitchen scissors.