This is a bit of a fiddle to make, but it is very delicious…leftovers disappear way too quickly!
- 1 cup green lentils, soaked for an hour
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 onions, halved lengthwise, then sliced (keep each separate)
- 5 cups chicken stock, divided in half (use vegetable stock or vegetarian “chicken” stock cubes for vegetarian version of this dish)
- ¾ cup butter, divided, as per directions
- 1 ¼ cups basmati rice
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp dried dill, or 2 Tbsp fresh, chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 egg, beaten
- 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
- 10 sheets filo pastry, thawed
Drain the lentils, then simmer with the bay leaves, one onion, and 2 ½ cups of the chicken stock, for 25 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked and thick. Cool and set aside.
Gently fry the remaining onion in another saucepan with 2 Tbsp of the butter for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and toast for a minute. Add the remaining 2 ½ cups of chicken stock. Grind in some pepper, bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and cook gently for about 12 minutes. Turn off heat, and remove saucepan from burner. Leave rice to stand, uncovered for 5 minutes, then stir in the herbs.
Fry the mushrooms in 3 Tbsp of the butter for 5 minutes until they are just soft. Stir into the rice and herbs. When mixture is cool, thoroughly mix in the raw egg.
Melt the remaining butter.
Brush the inside of a large, shallow ovenproof dish or deep-dish pie plate with the melted butter. Lay the sheets of filo over it, one at a time, overlapping, covering the base and making sure most of the pastry overhangs the sides; brush the sheets with butter when they overlap each other, and as they are laid on top of each other. Ensure that there is a lot of pastry to fold over the mounded filling – you can use more than 10 sheets if necessary!
Into the pastry-lined dish spread a layer of rice mixture. Follow with a layer of lentils, then a layer of rice, etc. The number of layers will depend on your dish size. Grind some pepper (and salt, if required) over each layer as you go.
Bring up the sheets of pastry over the filling into the centre, so it looks like a Hershey’s Kiss! Give it a little squeeze, and shape it into attractive folds. Brush all over with the rest of the butter and set aside in the fridge to chill and firm up.
Preheat the oven to 375F. When ready, bake the kulbebyaka for about 45 minutes until golden and crisp. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.