Tita's Famous Misalwa مسلوعه
Updated: Jun 19
Everything my TITA (grandma) makes is my favorite ok minus the stuffed lamb liver.. She loves to cook and feed everyone, no one ever goes home hungry. And if you are not there when she makes something you bet that she will save you a portion or 3 you know to "share with your friends" as she would say.
Feeling so blessed to spend last summer with her. I hung with her in the kitchen, her favorite spot in the house doing what she loves most, cooking for her family. I loved watching her as she moved slowly in her kitchen with her walker right next to her. My grandmother is over 90 years old. We don't know her real age as she lost her birth certificate sometime during the chaos of the war. Creamy red lentils with rice, cumin, sumac, lots of olive oil and turmeric. This dish she calls "Misalwa" or others might call it "yellow Mjadarah" is a cold or served at room temperature lentil stew or more of a savory pudding. We started the cooking this dish in her veranda; a little sun room off her kitchen. She sits on a small stool wearing her handmade apron she had sewn, chopping onions on a chopping board that she had refurbished.
After the lentils are cooked, comes the essential part. The Garnishes. Tita takes the garnishes to a whole new level. Each plated dish gets a generous sprinkling of raw onions sprinkled with sumac, crispy caramelized onions sautéed in olive oil that’s pressed from our olive trees, and fresh parsley. Every bowl she arranges is dedicated to a family member. And you can’t leave without finishing your bowl or you will take it home. The garnished bowls sit on the top shelve in her fridge. Always ready for anyone who stops by.
The best thing about this dish is you can eat it straight out of the fridge my grandmother's favorite way of eating it. That's why she loves to make it in the summertime.
Those precious hands helped raise me when I was a little girl, fed me, braided my hair, did my sewing project in grade school (because I sucked at sewing) And with every popping vein and wrinkle there is a life long story and lessons for me to cherish and preserve. If you want to see me cook with my Tita head to my story on Instagram.
In the Arab kitchen and especially in TITA’s kitchen (I think Titas language is universal) simple humble pantry staples are often transformed into big meals the whole family will enjoy.
I ate this dish every summer growing up and now when I go back home to Palestine my Tita will make this for me. I cooked this with her last summer and it was the most beautiful day I will cherish for the rest of my life. Today I remade this recipe in my kitchen for you and for my family to enjoy. May the stories and food of our grandparents live on for generations to come.
Rice & Lentils Savory Summer Pudding
Cooking time: 1 hour
3 cups orange lentils rinsed
1.5 cups short grain rice (rinsed few times until water runs clear)
1/3 -1/2 cup extra version olive oil
9 cups of water (plus more for later)
2 large onions thinly sliced
salt and pepper
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
2 bay leaves
Chopped Parsley 3-4 tbls
1 yellow onion thinly sliced
1 tsp sumac
1 tsp cumin
Rinse your lentils. Add the lentils to a soup pot and add the water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Skim the foam off the top
** Tip: for every cup of red lentils add 3 cups of water or stock
Add the rinsed rice, spices, bay leaf and stir to combine. Let it cook until the rice and lentils are tender and cooked through about 45 minutes. Make sure you stir often so they don’t stick to the bottom.
Add more water if mixture is too thick 1/2 cup at a time. (I added an additional 1.5-2 cups of water) because it all depends on the type of rice you use. We are looking for a pudding consistency
In the meantime In a medium pan heat the olive oil and fry the onions till they are golden-brown. Add a pinch of salt to season. Don’t rush this process it will take up to 30-45 minutes to achieve the right caramelization. Stir your onions often.
Once the onions are caramelized, use a slotted spoon and strain them on a paper towel but reserve the cooking oil.
Once the lentils and rice are cooked through. Add the olive oil left over from cooking the onions into the lentil and rice mixture and fold until all the oil is combine into the lentils. The olive oil will make this mixture super silky and pudding like.
Reserve the fried onions to garnish the top
**Tita plates bowls full and carefully garnishes them.
Pour into a serving platter or little bowls.
Toss the sliced onions with a tsp of sumac and half a tsp of cumin.
Garnish the top of the bowls with the crispy onions, sumac raw onions, fresh minced parsley and a sprinkling of cumin.
**Tita's mixing bowls are from her wedding many many years ago
The best part about this dish it’s Eaten hot or at room temperature or even straight out of the fridge. Serve with chopped vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers and olives.
This will last for up to a week in the fridge. Making it the best summer lunch or dinner or even as a side.
My grandmothers portions are always huge when she makes food. She likes to feed everyone. These bowls of orange goodness will sit in the fridge and line the top shelves of her fridge. Always ready for whoever comes over hungry or not they must grab a bowl.
I scaled this recipe down for you. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.