An Edible Mosaic
Recipes on October 31, 2012 by

An Edible Mosaic {Giveaway} + Mujaddara

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,


Shellee says:

Tabbouleh with fresh pita. Oh yea!

Renata says:

Chicken shawarma is my favorite traditional dish! Thanks so much!

Nicole says:

This is a great giveaway. My favorite is baba ganoush. Something I’d like to learn to make.

Sami says:

Fattoush! Want some…now!

Hannah says:


TC says:

hummus! (even though that feels like such a cop-out kind of answer)

Safana says:

I love yalanji bil sillek. It’s like stuffed grape leaves but with collards. It’s amazing!

Katy Martin says:

My favorite Middle Eastern dish is Dolma! I love the stuffed grape leaves!

gail says:

hard to choose, but falafel

Julie says:

Tough to pick a favorite – but I love falafel!

MaureenK says:

Koshari for sure! Brown rice, whole wheat macaroni and lentils with a harissa kick – awesome!

Sondi Hardy says:

Aloo-Methi Ki Tikki – I love your products too.

karen says:

Falafel! Love love love it!

Jen says:

I love to change up ingredients for dolmades — recently used butternut squash and dried cranberries along with rice, pine nuts, parsley, etc.

Crystal says:

I love making stuffed lamb and choereg for my family meals.

My favorite Middle Eastern dish would probably have to be dolmas, but I also love anything that involves a yogurt sauce.



Susan J says:

Baba Ghanoush, Falafel, Hummus… I love it all!!

Joy says:

Beef shawarma is my favorite, but I don’t make it for myself. I only get it once in a while (not local) and I gobble it all up. : )

Andrea says:

Keppe, taboule and shawarmas. Now I want some!! 🙂

Ruth Bernstein says:

I go to a homeless mens’ shelter once a week to sew and mend their belongings. I would love to have that book for the shelter kitchen so food from the Middle East could be for the men from the Middle East
Thank you so very much. Ruth

Leslie says:

Chicken Tawook, but i love it all!

Sharon says:

Obsessed with stuffed grape leaves…deliciously genius!

Tamara says:

Foul along with olives, onions, tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil. Yummy!

Marti Jean says:

Anything with curry and shrimp…ANYTHING!!!

Shannon says:

ooh, such a tough choice, but I’m going to have to go with falafels!

Jeffrey says:

I like gyros and any type of hummus.

We love anything with eggplant and lots and lots of hummus!

Teresa Young says:

I love hummus with pita.

Hope says:

I love putting humus on anything and everything!

Jenna Z says:

I LOVE tagines! They are so tasty and flexible. I made one this week that was chickpeas, zucchini, onion and tomatoes in a spicy cinnamon, turmeric and coriander sauce.

Amanda Thompson says:

I love Falafel!

jacquie says:

i do love falafel but i’m not at all familar w/ middle east food other than that. It would be nice to be able to experiment w/ more dishes.

LeAnn V says:

Eggplant Baba Ghanoush.

Ami Ashar says:

I am a vegetarian and I love Turkish food! I have made several Turkish dishes that I have been lucky to learn from my awesome Turkish friends. My favorites have to be Dolma (grape leaves stuffed with rice), Muhammara sauce (roasted red bell pepper and walnuts), Mercimek Koftesi (red lentil and Bulgur) and Veggie kibbi (red lentil with bulgur wheat stuffed with lentils) either fried or baked! As dessert, I love the Kavala cookie (almond meal+ butter) Yummmmmmmyyyyy! 🙂

Rawyah S says:

Sfeeha is my favorite. It is a meat pie with pine nuts.

Kelsey says:

I love hummus, although I have a craving to try lots of different middle eastern food. I had Kurdish wraps when I visited Spain, but I feel like I am missing out on a lot of things I haven’t tried yet!

Laura says:

Mujaddara or something with kofte. 🙂

DRTVrMoi says:

Philadelphia has a vibrant Armenian community and a dear friend introduced us to tabbouleh. We still have her hand-written recipe that we reference. Good food = friendship

My favorite Middle Eastern dish would have to be chicken shawarma!

Judi Y. says:

I love spicy sweet vegetarian dolmades and homemade baba ghanoush. Both are delicious ways to use seasonal produce.

Renee S says:

Hummus is definitely a favorite here!

michael goldman says:

As above a great Tagine. Take the time to make your own Preserved Lemons. Essentially nothing more then fresh lemons, lemon juice and salt. Trust me in 2 weeks you will have a homemade inexpensive item that will , to quote my kids, blow you away.
You can do a Meat version or Vegi version with equal ease and in both cases the result will be exceptional.
Put the sauce of over a Grain of your choice and you will enjoy a communal dinner which will be wonderfully warming for the upcoming cool weather

Carolsue says:

Baklava! I love that stuff! Falafels are good, too!

Elizabeth Halsey says:

Baba Ghanoush! I want to learn to make it right…burn skin or bake it in skin?? Oh I would be so baba happy to have this book!
I’d teach my new secrets to my grand daughter Sadie who is a picky eater, yet and greedily eats baba ghanoush.

Margaret says:

Hummus and fresh pita!

Nada Bauer says:

I have to say Lebanese Tabbouleh will top all my favorite middle eastern dishes!

Carol says:

I don’t know the proper name, but it’s sliced grilled eggplant, baked in a savoury tomato sauce, topped with very garlicky Greek yogurt.

Davis says:

So hard to pick. Love to cook tagines! New to site & very excited! 🙂

My favourite dish is kunefi but I haven’t made it at home yet.

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