Mujadara | Middle Eastern Lentils and Rice

Yields: 3 Servings Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 10 Mins Cook Time: 40 Mins Total Time: 50 Mins

Mujadara is a naturally vegan dish that is made in many parts of the Middle East. The name is from the Arabic word مُجَدَّرَة meaning ‘pockmarks’, because the lentils look like pockmarks scattered through the rice. Mujadara is made up of only a few staples: Lentils, rice or bulgur, and onions. It is considered ‘peasant food’ due to its inexpensive ingredients, which works for me!

There are countless variations of the recipe depending on whose mother you talk to. Some people make it with bulgur instead of rice, while others use brown or wild rice. You can use brown or red onions; I am very partial to red onions. A lot of the time, mujadara is served as is, without any particular garnish. The ones I’ve had were garnished with pine nuts and coriander. As I don’t have pine nuts (they are bloody expensive here) I used cashews.

This dish as a main is so comforting. The lightness of the rice with the dense creaminess of the lentils and the sweetness of the onions is an amazing combination. Enjoy your protein-rich mujadara with a vegan khyar bi laban (yogurt and cucumber dip) or fattoush (fresh salad).


  • Use only green or brown lentils. The others get too mushy!
  • You can cut your onions into small bits or leave them stringy.
  • Spread your onions out in a flat pan so they caramelize evenly.
  • If it seems that your onions are taking too long to cook, make yourself a cuppa and wait. Cooking them on too high a heat will cause them to burn and lose that sweetness that you want.
  • I used basmati rice but you can use any white rice. When using brown or wild rice or bulgur, you will need to add more liquid when cooking.
  • You can add 1/3 of the caramelized onions into the rice when it is cooking if you prefer the onions to be mixed well.

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0/13 Ingredients
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  • Spices


0/10 Instructions
  • Soak your lentils for 1-2 hours.
  • Boil in a large pot with 5 cups of water for about 15-20 minutes. The water should reduce by half and the lentils should be cooked but still with a bite.
  • While the lentils are cooking, fry the onions in the oil over a low flame, stirring regularly. Stop when they turn a lovely golden brown colour. Don't let them go black! Remove the onions, leaving the oil in the pan.
  • Drain the lentils, saving the cooking water for later.
  • Using the oil from frying the onion, fry your cinnamon and other whole spices until they go slightly darker and aromatic.
  • Then add your spice powders and mix well.
  • Add the rice, mixing thoroughly to coat every grain with oil and spices. You can also add 1/3 of the caramelized onions here if you prefer.
  • Then add 1.5 cups of the lentil cooking water. Add the lentils on top of the rice. Bring to boil. Then lower the heat to a low simmer with the lid on.
  • After about 15 minutes, the rice should be cooked and the water all absorbed. Remove from heat. Mix the rice and lentils together, then cover and leave for another 5 minutes.
  • Serve topped with the caramelized onions, some toasted pine nuts, and a little bit of coriander.


#cashew  #lentils  #onion  #rice  

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