Mujadara is a simple Lebanese lentil and rice dish with crispy onions that's packed with flavor. This lentils and rice recipe calls for only a few ingredients and is very easy to make.
The recipes I have on this blog tend to be simple yet really delicious and this mujadara is no different. Just like Lebanese vermicelli rice, Turkish rice pilaf with orzo or Persian lentil rice, this dish is also made with a few ingredients that you probably already have on hand. It's an inexpensive dish that comes together in no time. Your whole family will love it!
What is mujadara?
Mujadara, also known as mujaddara, , mujadarah, mejadra, mudardara and moujadara, is a lentil and rice dish of originating in the Levant. One of the first mujadara recipes was found in Iraq and included rice, lentils and meat.
Mujaddara used to be served as a celebration dish but when served without meat was considered a meal for poor people. This easy vegan recipe will amaze you by how simple yet outstanding it is. Once you give it a try, you will always go back for seconds and thirds!
Rice - This dish is made with white rice and you can use long grain or short grain. My preference is basmati rice because it gets nice and fluffy after cooking. If you prefer using brown rice, you need to adjust the cooking time as it will take longer to cook.
Lentils - Traditionally, you need dark brown lentils for mujadara which are a bit difficult to find in regular supermarkets. These special brown lentils are available online or at Middle Eastern shops. Here I used regular green lentils that you can find in every supermarket.
Spices - You need a combination of salt, cinnamon and cumin. If you're not a fan of cinnamon you can just leave it out.
Onion - All the flavor of this dish comes from the onions. Use at least 4 onions for this recipe. You need two to cook with the rice and lentils and two to fry and top the dish.
Fry the onions
Heat some olive oil over medium heat and start frying the sliced onions until they are golden brown. Caramelized onions are what bring so much flavor to this lentil and rice recipe.
The key is to caramelize the onions on medium heat and keep a close eye on them. You don't want them to be super soft and mushy, you want them to keep their shape yet be all golden and brown. We will top our our dish with this caramelized onion.
Cook the rice and lentils
Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Sauté chopped onion and once it's golden, add in lentils and give it a nice stir for about two minutes. Next, add in the rice and cook for about a minute. Season with cumin, cinnamon and salt and then add the water.
Bring to simmer and then cover and cook until lentils and rice are fully cooked. If the water is completely absorbed but the rice and lentils are not fully cooked, add ⅛ cup more water and cook for some more minutes.
Once the rice and lentils are completely cooked, start plating. Fill a platter with mujadara and then top it with the fried onion. Serve warm.
Mujadara is a complete meal on its own and it would go so well with a bowl of yogurt (check out my instructions to make homemade yogurt) or fresh salad such as fattoush or salad shirazi. You can also serve mujaddara with some grilled chicken, lamb or beef. It even makes a great side dish for beef shish kabob or chicken shish kabob.
Frequently asked questions
You sure can. Mujaddara is typically made with long grain rice such as basmati rice but you can use jasmine or even brown rice. However, you should modify the cooking time and the amount of water according to the type of rice you use.
Absolutely! You can make mujaddara ahead of time and simply heat it right before serving. However, I strongly suggest you make the caramelized onion fresh as it will taste so much better. You can make the caramelized onion as the rice is heating.
Rice and lentil freezes so well. Therefore you can make a big batch and use some for your meal prep and freeze the rest. Simply transfer the rice and lentils into freezer safe containers and freeze for up to three months. To serve, you can either use a microwave or transfer the rice to a small pot and add ⅓ cup water, cover and heat over medium low until warm and heated through.
More lentil recipes
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Mujadara Lebanese Lentils and Rice with Crispy Onions
- 5 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 onions thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 onions chopped
- 1 ½ cup lentils
- 1 ½ cup long grain rice
- 1 ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 cups water
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- Heat olive oil over in a pan over medium heat. Cook onions until brown and golden. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Saute onion until golden brown.
- Add in lentils and cook for two to three minutes.
- Add rice, cumin and cinnamon to the lentils. Stir well so everything is completely combined.
- Pour water into the pot with salt, bring to simmer and let it cook for about 30-40 minutes until the lentil and rice is completely cooked.
- Mix the lentils and rice with caramelized onion and serve with plain yogurt and salad.
- You can use jasmine or brown rice for Mujadara recipe but cooking time will be different.
- Check the rice after 30 minutes and if it's not cooked, add ¼ cup more water.
- You can use other kinds of rice such as medium grain rice or even brown rice. Remember the cooking time and the amount of water used would vary depending on the type of rice you're using.
- Freezing instructions: Transfer the rice and lentils into freezer safe containers and freeze for up to three months. To serve, you can either use a microwave or transfer the rice to a small pot and add ⅓ cup water, cover and heat over medium low until warm and heated through.