Mujaddara – Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions

December 9, 2010 · 26 comments

in beans and legumes,dairy-free,healthy,middle eastern,rice and grains,vegetarian

Oh, mujaddara, how I love thee.  Who would ever imagine lentils and rice to be so good? But, they are.  This is one of my favorite Middle Eastern dishes (and it should be one of yours, too).  Mujaddara consists of onions that have been caramelized and lentils and rice that have cooked together with the caramelized onions.  It can be served as a vegetarian main dish or as a side. Traditionally, it’s only flavored with salt and pepper, but I think cumin and bay complement the ingredients so well, so that’s how I make mine.

I cook the rice and lentils together (some cook the lentils beforehand and mix at the end) because it’s easier and I feel like the flavors meld better.  However, the only issue with this is that the amount of liquid you need is not an exact science, so you may or may not need to add a little more as you go.  Don’t worry, it’s a very forgiving dish.  Certainly not the most beautiful dish, but very forgiving.  And delicious.


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1.5 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, cut in half and then into slices
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over
1/2 cup brown rice
2.5 cups water or broth (or a combo)*

Heat a deep saute pan or medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the oil.  Once hot, add the onions.  Cook for two or three minutes over medium heat and then reduce to medium-low.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are a dark golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.

Stir in the cumin, bay leaf, lentils and brown rice and saute for a minute before adding the liquid.  Increase the heat to bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer until the rice and lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*Add more liquid as you are cooking the mujaddara, if necessary.

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Saveur December 9, 2010 at 2:52 pm

I love Middle Eastern food but have yet to try Mujaddara. I have a feeling it will happen this winter when I am stuck at home and don’t want to head to the grocery store in the snow. :) Such simple ingredients sound lovely.


Joan Nova December 9, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Lentils are so good. I make this, or something like it, but never knew it had a name.


Christine December 9, 2010 at 6:44 pm

I was just telling my sister a few moments ago that I had to make Mujaddara again because it is the best comfort food to eat especially in the winter. I love this stuff!


Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul December 10, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Yum…as a dedicated lentil lover I can see myself making this…and really the possibilities are endless. Thanks for sharing Elly.


Anadrol December 11, 2010 at 11:35 am

Made this yesterday and it turned out great.
Thank you.


Cherine December 11, 2010 at 11:57 am

This is one of my favorite dishes!


Kelsey December 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm

I’ve never had this before, Elly, but it looks delicious. Thanks for sharing this!


Gillian December 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Yum! If you use this as a side dish, what would you suggest serving it with?


elly December 11, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Gillian, it would be great with chicken, lamb, or beef kabobs. You could also make it with shawarma. I have recipes for both on my blog.


allison marie December 12, 2010 at 11:46 am

This was so good! I added some carrots that I needed to use up, and this was the perfect stabilizing comfort food dish for a snowy monday :) Thanks for sharing!


elly December 12, 2010 at 3:33 pm

So glad you liked it, Allison!


allison marie December 12, 2010 at 11:46 am

eeer Sunday. But it’ll be great tomorrow too for leftovers :)


Tanya Moat December 12, 2010 at 12:47 pm

I love mujaddara. It’s so simple and flavorful. I haven’t made it awhile but now I’ve definitely got a taste for it


Maria December 13, 2010 at 8:20 pm

I love this dish too. It’s hearty, it’s warming … it’s perfect for the season.


Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen December 15, 2010 at 9:23 pm

I love lentils – this looks great!


Kelly December 16, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I made this evening and it took forever for the rice to cook (over a hour) by then the lentils were mush. Tasty dish though. Any suggestions on the rice?


elly December 16, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Hi Kelly. It usually doesn’t take that long for my brown rice to cook, but I would try one of two things: either adding the brown rice and cooking it for 10 minutes before adding the lentils (this is the route I’d go) or parboiling the rice before adding it with the rest of the stuff.


tobias cooks! December 23, 2010 at 11:08 am

I prepare this one quite often. A delicious dish that can make a whole meal!


Feed Me! January 7, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Yummy! I lurve Mujaddara! So surprised, and happy to see this on your site – I’m Armenian, and my parents grew up in Egypt, and my mom used to make this all the time growing up…she’d also make a small side salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, and a little parsley (the first three ingredients in equal amounts, and about 1/3 to about 1/2 the amt of parsley), all diced, and mixed with a lot of lemon juice, and a little salt, sometimes red pepper, too… pour it on top of the Mujaddara, and it’s DELICIOUS! The lemon adds a bit of tartness, and the cucumbers are cool and crunchy…YUM!


Jen January 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm

I make something like this from an old vegan cookbook I have. They spell it Mjeddrah. Funny how things morph. I always serve mine on a bed of lettuce with tomato and a lovely olive oil, lemony dressing. Top with feta and it is one of our favorites!!


F January 20, 2011 at 4:21 am

Thanks, I’m in the middle of cooking this right now for our shared lunch tomorrow. Smells great :>.


miri April 2, 2011 at 8:12 am

heading to our monthly vegetarian meeting tomorrow, great opportunity to try this! It does seem like a perfect “lazy sunday” dish to me!


hilaryl December 2, 2011 at 10:51 am

I just made this! So delicious! Can’t wait to eat lunch in a few hours. Another great recipe, thank you!


elly December 2, 2011 at 11:09 am

So happy you enjoyed it!


Jonah Lisa January 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Making this as I type. Looked all over the net for just the right recipe and love that you use brown rice and cook it with the lentils. Makes this such a great one-pot meal. I didn’t have a bay leaf (crazy!) so I used 1/4 tsp of coriander instead. Smells wonderful.


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