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Greek Brown Lentils with Smoked Eggplant and Pasta

Greek Brown Lentils with Smoked Eggplant and Pasta

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Greek Brown Lentils with Smoked Eggplant and Pasta is inspired from my Cypriot dish called Fakhes Moudjentra.   It is a light dish with a lot of flavour from the smoked eggplant as well as sweetness from the carrots and onion.

The pasta is cooked in the leftover fluid, which absorbs all the flavour and adds body to the dish, making it a healthy and filling dish.

Brown lentils with pasta image

Although the traditional dish is usually made with rice, we often substitute rice with pasta.  My sister made her own twist adding carrot to this dish but following her recipe, I have brought this dish to another level adding smoked eggplant in it.

The dish is vegan and can be eaten without the addition of cheese on top.  However, as it has pasta in it, and cheese is good on top of pasta, you can substitue graviera or halloumi with a vegan cheese if  you like.

Lentils with smoked eggplant picture

Origin of the Word Moudjentra

A couple of months ago, I got an email from a Cypriot reader of my blog, who lives in Adelaide, Australia, who has a background in linguistics and informed me regarding the etymology of the word moudjentra / moujentra, in Cypriot μουτζέντρα.

The word is connected with a recipe with lentils which she may have probably read either in my post for Fakes Moudjentra or in my Cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!.

In the descriiption of my post for Fakes Moudjentra I wrote:

Until recently,  I used to think that this is a Cypriot recipe but reading recipes on the internet from all over the world, I found out that a lentil and rice dish is referred to in the Middle East as mujaddara or mejadra and I now realize that this Cypriot dish may have some middle eastern influence.

According to this reader, she discovered, through research, that moujendra/ moutzentra comes from the ancient Greek ομόκεντρο = omokentro / homokentro) meaning same centre as opposed to έκκεντρο = ek- kentro (eccentric in English).  In the Greek-Cypriot form of the word, dialectical convention dictates that the – kentro part becomes -jendro/tzendro.

At first glance, I was skeptical to accept this information and asked for more explanations.

Here is her reply:

“Homokentro” refers to something which is solid or a mass as opposed to soupy or runny i.e. same-centre. In the etymological dictionary of spoken Cypriot ( Kyriakou Hatjioannou, Tamasos, 1996, p.117), the entry states that μουτζεντρα is a dish of lentils in a “mass, not soupy” –  “σε μια μάζα, όχι σουπα “.

She adds that ομόκεντρος is the old form of συγκεντρωτικός = same centre and ομόκεντρα is a change of declension which forms ομόκεντρα > μοκεντρα> μουτζεντρα (omekentra> mokentra> moudjentra).

origin of word moudjentra in dictionary image

 

I posted this explanation in a Cypriot group, on Facebook and was given another explanation found in the etymological dictionary of the Common Greek-Cypriot Dialect and Turkish-Cypriot Dialect, by Iakovos Hadjipieris and Orhan Kabataş.

Cypriiot dictionary image

According to these authors, they have a different etymology for the word moudjentra.  They describe Moudjentra being a dish with lentils, rice and fried onions and the word comes from ωμό +  κέντρο (which describes badly cooked legumes i.e. which do not cook easily).

second explanation about moudjentra image

Personally, I do not know if gastronomically the dish originated in Cyprus or the Middle East.  However, we know as a fact that the Arabs raided Cyprus during the 7th century A.D. and may be they learned this dish from the Cypriots during that period.

Also, lets not forget that during antiquity there were more than 150 big or small cities founded and inhabited by Greeks in the Middle East.

Linguistically, I do not know which of the above two interpretations is the correct but I tend to believe that the first one is more correct, as there are other legumes as well, which do not cook easily and are not called moudjentra.

At least now we know that the word moudjentra is of Greek-Cypriot origin and it is good to know about the origin of our food.

 

Greek Brown Lentils with Smoked Eggplant and Pasta

Preparation time:  15 minutes

Cooking time:  about 55 minutes

Serves:  4

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams brown lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Water to cover them
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large carrot grated (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 large ripe tomato (about 350 grams) peeled and grated
  • 1 large eggplant, smoked
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly grated black pepper
  • A pinch of oregano
  • Water to cover them
  • 1 cup medium ditali pasta
  • 4 tablespoons grated graviera or halloumi cheese, optional

Directions:

  1. Char grill the eggplants over an open flame until the flesh has charred and the interior is tender, for about 10 – 15 minutes or roast it in the oven until the flesh has blackened for about an hour.  See how to char the eggplat in my recipe for Melitzanosalata (Greek Eggplant Dip).
  2. Set aside until cool to handle and then remove the skin.  Chop it into smaller pieces.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and sauté the onions, stirring regularly for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
  4. Add it to the browned onion and cook for 5 more minutes.  Set aside.
  5. Simultaneously put the lentils and bay leaf in a pot with enough water to cover them.  Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.  Strain and discard the bay leaf.
  6. Put them back in the pot, together with the grated tomato and grated carrots and water.  Bring to a boil and simmer until lentils are cooked (about 30 minutes).
  7. Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
  8. Add the lightly browned onion with eggplant and continue cooking for fifteen more minutes.  (If we started cooking early, at this point we can stop cooking until it is lunch time.  All we have to do is to bring it back to a boil again).
  9. Add the ditalini pasta and cook for about 15 – 20 minutes, stirring regularly until all juices are absorbed.
  10. Serve with graviera cheese on top.
Brown lentils with pasta photo

Greek Brown Lentils with Smoked Eggplant and Pasta

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes

Brown Lentils with Smoked Eggplant and Pasta is inspired from my Cypriot dish called Fakhes Moudjentra.   It is a light dish with a lot of flavour from the smoked eggplant as well as sweetness from the onion and carrot.  The pasta is cooked in the leftover fluid, which absorbs all the flavour and adds body to the dish, making it a healthy, nutritional and filling dish.

Ingredients

  • 200 grams brown lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Water to cover them
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large carrot grated (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 large ripe tomato (about 350 grams) peeled and grated
  • 1 large eggplant, smoked
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly grated black pepper
  • A pinch of oregano
  • Water to cover them
  • 1 cup medium ditali pasta
  • 4 tablespoons grated graviera or halloumi cheese, optional

Instructions

  1. Char grill the eggplants over an open flame until the flesh has charred and the interior is tender, for about 10 – 15 minutes or roast it in the oven until the flesh has blackened for about an hour.
  2. Set aside until cool to handle and then remove the skin.  Chop it into smaller pieces.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and sauté the onions, stirring regularly for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
  4. Add it to the browned onion and cook for 5 more minutes.  Set aside.
  5. Simultaneously put the lentils and bay leaf in a pot with enough water to cover them.  Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.  Strain and discard the bay leaf.
  6. Put them back in the pot, together with the grated tomato and grated carrots and water.  Bring to a boil and simmer until lentils are cooked (about 30 minutes).
  7. Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
  8. Add the lightly browned onion with eggplant and continue cooking for fifteen more minutes.  (If we started cooking early, at this point we can stop cooking until it is lunch time.  All we have to do is to bring it back to a boil again).
  9. Add the ditalini pasta and cook for about 15 – 20 minutes, stirring regularly until all juices are absorbed.
  10. Serve with graviera cheese on top.
Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving Calories 476.45Total Fat 15.04gSaturated Fat 2.14gSodium 612.72mgCarbohydrates 70.72gFiber 13.89gSugar 12.4gProtein 18.84g

Did you make this recipe?

Tried this recipe? Tag me @ivyliac and use the hashtag #kopiaste!

 

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Other relevant recipes:

Brown Lentils with Carrots, Orzo and Caramelized onions

Fakes Soupa (Greek lentils soup)

Lentils with Orzo and Pasto

Coconut, Red Lentils Soup

Healthy Mediterranean Lentil Salad

Fahes Moudjentra (Lentils with Rice)

Fakes Soupa (Greek Lentil Soup)

Fakokeftedes (Lentil Burgers)

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!

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