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Are you familiar with mujadara? It’s a beautiful dish layered with lentils and rice at the bottom, followed by caramelized onions (the more, the better), and hopefully a couple of creamy or spicy sauces on the side. It’s one of my favorite items to order at Middle Eastern restaurants, and this recipe tastes just like it.
Mujadara is served across the Middle East in various forms and goes by differing names, depending on where you are. It has many spelling variations: mujadarra, mujadarah, majadra, mejadra, moujadara, mudardara, and megadarra.
Mujadara is a seriously inexpensive vegetarian meal that would make a statement at your next get-together.
It’s also special diet-friendly, since it’s gluten free and easily vegan/dairy free (simply serve hummus or tahini sauce on the side instead of yogurt).
Lastly, mujadara is fun to make! Want to learn how?
I’ve been wanting to master this recipe for quite a while. When the March-April issue of Milk Street arrived in my mailbox with mujaddara on the cover, it seemed like a sign. I got really excited when I read that their recipe cooks both the rice and the lentils in the same pot—genius.
For my version, I started with Milk Street’s recipe and made several changes to suit my own preferences and make the recipe a little more nutritious. I substituted brown rice for the white rice, which was simple once I adjusted the cooking times. Brown rice makes this mujadarra recipe extra hearty and flavorful.
I also cooked my onions in extra-virgin olive oil instead of peanut oil, and it worked great. Finally, I added more fresh herbs to liven up the finished dish.
How to Cook Mujaddara
Here’s what you should know before you get started:
This mujaddara recipe is awesome because you can cook the rice and lentils in the same pot! The trick is to let the rice cook for about 10 minutes before adding the lentils. This easy cooking method is a game changer, and I’m sure you’ll see it again soon.
While the lentils and rice simmer, you’ll start caramelizing the onions. Whether you want soft caramelized onions (shown in photos) or more crispy caramelized onions (more traditional), your mujaddara will turn out great.
For softer onions, just reduce the heat to medium-low after 10 minutes at medium-high. For more crisp onions, leave the heat at medium-high the whole time and stir minimally, just every few minutes when the onions are starting to brown. With either method, cook until the onions are deeply caramelized and loaded with flavor. You can’t go wrong!
Once your components are done, spread them across a large serving platter. Serve with a bowl of yogurt on the side. Its creamy, rich texture and tangy flavor unites the pilaf and onions.
I also love serving my mujaddara with a fresh and spicy sauce, such as shatta (shown in photos) or zhoug. Those are both made with jalapeños and fresh herbs. Store-bought chili-garlic sauce is a good option, too. If you want a more mild flavor boost, try a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes.
Watch How to Make Mujadara
Important Notes & Tips
This recipe is designed for specific, easy-to-find varieties of rice and lentils.
If you choose a different variety, you will need to adjust the cooking times and method. The easiest workaround is to cook the lentils and rice separately until tender, drain well, then stir them together.
This recipe is written for brown basmati rice, not white rice, not quick-cooking rice. Any type of regular-cooking brown rice will theoretically work, but brown basmati rice is most traditional. If you want to use white basmati rice, you’ll find guidance in the recipe notes. Otherwise, you’ll want to cook your preferred variety of rice separately.
It is also designed for standard, uncooked brown or green lentils (not canned lentils or red/yellow/black beluga/French green lentils). Want to substitute canned lentils? You can—rinse and drain two cans of lentils and stir them into the cooked rice. Want to substitute another variety of lentil? Your best bet would be to cook it separately and stir it into the cooked rice. Here’s my guide to cooking lentils.
Wondering what to serve with your mujaddara? I’ve got you covered:
- Fattoush Salad, or a simple green salad topped with Fresh Mint Dressing
- Ultra Creamy Hummus, Baba Ganoush and/or Tahini Sauce
- Crispy Baked Falafel
- Mediterranean Tomato & Feta Dip
View all Mediterranean recipes here or read my guide to cooking lentils if you’re interested in incorporating more lentils in your diet.
Please let me know how your mujaddara turns out in the comments! I hope you absolutely love it.