Ok, I admit it: I’m a one pot cook. Oh, I can do 12 dish feasts for many people, but when I’m at home, I don’t. There are so many excellent dishes out there that give you a relatively complete meal in one pot or one pan, and for your average night, it saves time and clean up. (That first is going to be even more important as I go back to work full time next month.) Unfortunately, when photographing, it leaves you with decidedly fewer options for plating.
I picked out two more dishes to photograph from my mother’s cookbook, and they are both one pot main courses. The first, Mujadara, a Lebanese, is one of my favorites. It is essentially lentils and rice with caramelized onions. You don’t get much simpler than that and it sounds like it would be boring, but somehow it’s not. I like to add goat cheese to mine, but given the choice, I would add goat cheese to just about anything.
1 package brown lentils (1 lb)
2 medium onions
2 cups raw rice
1/2 cup olive oil
Cook lentils in about 5 cups of water until done, adding more water if necessary to keep a slightly loose consistency. Meanwhile, slice onions and sauté in the olive oil until very dark brown, almost but not quite burned. Cook rice as usual. To serve, combine rice, lentils, olive oil, and onions.
Keeping with the middle eastern theme, the second dish that I chose was Bagala Polo (also called Baghali Polo). This one is a Persian chicken dish. The family was not overly crazy about this, but some of that may have been the rice. I picked up some rice from the Asian market, and it was more glutenous than they are used to, and had a distinctly different flavor.
Baghala Polo with Chicken
This is an Iranian dish that Alice taught me to make–yes, Alice. She raves about it, but only once in my life has she actually made some to share with me. I finally had to learn to make it myself if I wanted to get any–and I did.
6 Chicken (6 thighs)
2 cups Rice
1 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Comino (cumin)
3 tsp Dill weed
3 cups water
Fry the chicken thighs in a pot till browned; when it releases the oil, put in two cups rice. Fry rice with chicken. Add 3 cups water. Bring to a boil. Add 3 teaspoons dill weed, 1/2 teaspoon comino, about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon turmeric. Reduce some of the water; cover tightly and reduce heat; let steam for 20 minutes.
Neither of these is exactly pretty, but I suspect that a whole lot more could be done with these if I had any idea what I was doing with regards to set up and plating. I think that a lot more research is going to be involved before I can get this food photo thing down, and maybe some better table dressing.