Cleaning out the freezer, I realized we have two packages of frozen phyllo dough just hanging out in there. I decided to make one of our favorite dishes: Green Lentil Kulbyaka. It's D's birthday this week, so I decided to spruce it up a bit and make the lentils a little spicer, and add spinach to the mix. Unfortunately, I forgot to defrost the phyllo in time, so I had to buy yet a third package. I'll have to make this dish again soon.
1 cup lentils
2 bay leaves
2 onions, sliced
5 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cup long grain rice
salt and black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
4 tbsp parsley
4 tbsp dill
1 beaten egg
8 oz sliced mushrooms
4 hardboiled eggs
1 cup cooked spinach
8 sheets of phyllo
4 cloves of garlic
Soak the lentils for about 30 minutes; drain and simmer with bay leaves, one chopped onion, and half the stock for 25 minutes or until cooked and thick. Season well, and set aside.
Sautee the remaining chopped onion in another saucepan with some butter for about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and the rest of the stock. Season, bring to a boil, and then cover and cook gently until it's no longer crunchy. Leave stand uncovered once cooked for about 5 minutes before stirring in the fresh herbs. Cool, then beat in the raw egg.
Sautee the mushrooms in butter until they are just soft. Set aside to cool.
Sautee spinach with chopped garlic until just soft. Set aside to cool.
Chop the four hardboiled eggs and set aside.
Brush the inside of a large round ovenproof dish with more butter. Lay the sheets of phyllo in it, covering the base and making sure that enough of the pastry overhangs the sides so that you can fold it over the center. Brush well with butter in between overlapping the pastry. Use no less than 8 sheets of phyllo.
Into the pastry lining, layer rice, lentil, egg, spinach, and mushrooms at least twice.
Bring sheets of pastry over the filling, scrunching the top into attractive folds. Brush all over with the rest of the butter and set aside to chill and firm up.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. When ready, bake kulbyaka for about 45 minuts until golden and crisp. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before you cut and serve it.
We serve ours with a yogurt sauce seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin and chopped herbs.