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Mujadara (Lentils with Rice)
Mujadara is one of the easiest Middle Eastern rice dishes. It’s extremely quick and easy to prepare, yet very delicious and nutritious. Mujadara consists of cooked green lentils with rice, generously topped with deeply caramelized onions and garnished with nuts (optionally) and chopped parsley.
Let me show you how to make Mujadara at home with this step-by-step recipe.
What is Mujadara?
Mujadara is a popular lentils and rice recipe from the Middle East. It’s popular across the Levant, from Lebanon, Syria to Jordan.
Mujadara (also spelled Mujaddara or Moujadara) consists of green lentils and rice (usually basmati) which are cooked together in a saucepan or instant pot, together with a few seasonings. Traditionally, the dish is topped with a generous amount of deeply caramelized onions. Mujadara is usually topped with almonds (optional) and chopped parsley, and served with plain yogurt or lemon.
There are various types of Mujadara in the Middle East. The most popular type is Mujaddara Roz (Mujadara with rice) which is made with rice and green lentils. It can also be made with bulgur or a different type of lentils (e.g. yellow lentils). Either way, Mujadara is a very healthy dish that is naturally vegan.
I’m going to show you how to make Lebanese Mujadara, using lentils and rice. You’ll need the following ingredients:
- Rice: Rice is one of the main ingredients for Lebanese Mujadara. Basmati rice is the most commonly used type of rice for this dish. You can use Jasmine rice (or a similar type of medium to long grain rice), too. Be sure to wash your rice prior to cooking.
- Dried green lentils: Mujadara is traditionally made with green lentils. Depending on the store/brand, you’ll also find them labeled as brown lentils. Unlike certain legumes (e.g. chickpeas), lentils don’t need to be soaked beforehand!
- Onions: Deeply caramelized onions are one of the unique features of Mujadara. Use yellow onions. Large onions are better than small ones, as you should ideally chop them into slices rather than finely dicing them.
- Seasonings: Ground cumin is a signature Middle Eastern spice. Cumin, salt and a pinch of Baharat (Seven Spice blend) are all you need for Mujadara.
- Olive oil: A generous amount of olive oil is needed to caramelize the onions. It will also add to the flavor of the rice and lentils.
- Water: You’ll need water to wash the rice and lentils, as well as to cook them. See more information on the correct amount of water down the page.
- For garnish: Garnish the dish with some finely chopped parsley or coriander. Additionally, you can optionally sprinkle some roasted almonds on your Mujadara.
Note: Quantities can be found in the recipe card at the end of this recipe and can be adjusted according to the amount of servings you’d like to make.
How to Make Mujadara?
There are multiple ways of making Mujadara. You can make it in a conventional saucepan, a pressure cooker or an instant pot. I’ll show you how to make rice and lentils in a saucepan, as that’s what most people have at home. This method is easy and fast, as the cooking time is relatively short.
Step 1: Wash the rice
Before you start, soak your rice in plenty of water for about 30 minutes. Soaking rice improves its texture and taste and slightly reduces the cooking time. If you don’t have time, you can skip this step.
Wash the rice three times until the water runs clear. This step shouldn’t be skipped (for any rice recipe), as washing the rice will remove any excess starch (your rice will be lighter and more fluffy). Set aside the washed rice.
Step 2: Wash the lentils
In a separate container or strainer, wash the lentils to remove any debris. Drain the water and set aside the lentils.
Step 3: Prepare the onions
Onions are one of the key features of Mujadara. Peel the onions. The most common way is to cut them into thin slices. To do so, cut the onions into halves, then dice each half into thin slices.
Step 4: Caramelize the onions
Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Once the oil is hot, add the onions. Season with salt and cumin and stir well. Caramelize the onions on medium heat for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Once the onions are ready, remove them from the saucepan and set aside.
Step 5: Boil the lentils
In the meantime, add the green lentils into a (second) large saucepan. You can save time if you cook the lentils at the same time as you caramelize the onions. If you use dried green lentils (the preferred option for this recipe), you have to cook them briefly on their own, as well as with the rice. That’s because the cooking time of green lentils is longer as it’s for rice. If you boil the lentils with the rice without pre-cooking them, you’d end up with soft rice and semi-cooked lentils. To avoid this, we’ll cook them until they are ¾ done, and later cook them further with the rice.
Add hot water to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the washed green lentils and cook them for about 10 minutes. The lentils will be 75% cooked at that point. Drain in a colander and set aside.
Step 6: Cook the rice
Transfer the washed rice into the saucepan. You can use the saucepan in which you previously cooked the lentils or onions (as both will be done by now). Add hot water to the rice, together with a pinch of salt and bring to a rolling boil. Besure to add the right amount of water (more on this below).
Step 7: Add lentils and spices
Once the water is boiling, add the green lentils to the saucepan with the rice. Season with cumin and Baharat (Seven Spice blend) and stir well.
Step 8: Let simmer
Bring the water to a rolling boil again. Once it’s boiling, cook on high for about 2 minutes. Then close the lid and reduce the stove to low. Let simmer for about 12 minutes until the rice and lentils are tender and all the water is absorbed by the rice and lentils.
Step 9: Serve
Add the caramelized onions on top of the cooked rice and lentils. Garnish with some chopped parsley (optional). Serve with plain yogurt or a yogurt sauce and a salad of your choice.
How Much Water to Cook Rice / Lentils?
As you might know from other rice recipes, it’s important that you add the right amount of water when cooking rice. Too much water means the rice would be soggy, too little water would make it too dry. The amount of water you add when pre-cooking the lentils isn’t very important.
- Amount of water when cooking rice: The water is absorbed by the rice. At the end of the cooking time, you should have fluffy rice and no water remaining in the pot. Too much water means your rice will be soggy, too little water means your rice will be dry. Note that the ratio (water:rice) slightly varies depending on the type of rice. Use the amounts indicated in the recipe card below as a reference (you might need a little more or less than me). If you feel the rice is too dry, add a little more water to the pot. If you’re nearing the end of the cooking and you feel there’s too much water left, remove the lid and let it simmer without lid.
- Amount of water when cooking lentils: Cook the lentils in plenty of water. The amount isn’t very important. I usually add about 1 to 1.5 liters (4-5 cups) of water when cooking 200 g (1 cup) of dried green lentils. Drain the water after cooking. Lentils are precooked alone before being added to the rice because dried green lentils have a slightly higher cooking time when compared to white rice. To make sure they are both fully cooked in your final dish, you have to cook the lentils alone for about 10 minutes, before you cook them together with the rice.
When to Eat Mujadara
Mujadara is based on just a few staple ingredients. It’s the perfect comfort dish for busy work days or those days, where you just don’t feel like cooking. Forgot to buy meat and ran out of vegetables? Mujadara it is!
This bold rice and lentil dish is commonly served for lunch or dinner. Note that this Middle Eastern dish is an everyday food that you’d serve for your family. However, it’s not a dish you’d prepare on gatherings or special occasions.
What to Serve with Mujadara
Mujadara is typically served with plain yogurt (whole milk yogurt). You can also serve it with a yogurt sauce or cut up lemon. Rice and yogurt are a popular combination in the Middle East. A simple green salad of your choice (e.g. fattoush) also goes well with Mujadara.
Make Ahead & Storage
Mujadara can be perfectly prepared ahead of time. Let cool and store in the fridge for 2-3 days. Reheat in a saucepan or in the microwave.
Any Questions or Feedback?
If you liked this recipe, I’d appreciate it if you could leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. In case you’ve any questions or feedback, please leave me a comment (down the page). I’m happy to help you make delicious Middle Eastern food at home.
Mujadara (Rice with Lentils)
Mujadara is an absolute comfort food for busy days that’s made of just a few staple ingredients. Mujadara consists of rice with green lentils, topped with caramelized onions which add to the unique flavor of this simple Middle Eastern rice dish.
- 300 g (1.5 cups) Basmati rice
- 200 g (1 cups) green lentils
- 3 onions yellow, medium-large
- 1 tsp Baharat for the rice (see notes)
- 2 tsp cumin for the rice
- 1/2 tsp cumin for the onions
- 1/2 tsp salt for the rice
- pinch salt for the onions
- 4 Tbsp olive oil for the onions
- 1000 ml (4 cups) water see notes
- Wash the rice, drain the water and set aside. (Optionally soak the rice 30 minutes before you wash it to improve its texture).
- In a separate container, wash the lentils and remove any debris. Drain the water. Set aside.
- Peel the onions. Cut them into halves and cut into slices.
- Heat olive oil in a saucepan or wok-style pan. Once the oil is hot, add the onions. Season with salt and cumin and stir well. Caramelize the onions on low-medium heat for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Once the onions are ready, set aside.
- In the meantime, add the green lentils into a second saucepan. Add hot water and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, cook the lentils for about 10 minutes. The lentils will be 75% cooked at that point. Drain in a colander and set aside.
- Put rice into a saucepan (you can use the saucepan in which you previously cooked the lentils). Add hot water (see recipe notes!). Add a pinch of salt and bring to a rolling boil on high heat.
- Once the water is boiling, add the green lentils to the saucepan with the rice. Season with cumin and Baharat (Seven Spice blend) and stir well.
- Bring to a boil again. Cook on high for 2 minutes . Then close the lid and reduce to low heat. Let simmer for about 12 minutes until the rice and lentils are tender and the water is absorbed.
- Add the caramelized onions on top of the cooked rice and lentils. Garnish with some chopped parsley (optional). Serve Mujadara with plain yogurt or a yogurt sauce and a salad of your choice.
- Seasonings: For the best taste, you’ll need salt, cumin and Baharat. Baharat is a Middle Eastern spice blend also known as Seven Spices. You can find it in any Middle Eastern grocery store. If you don’t have Baharat, you substitute by adding ground cinnamon and coriander (half a teaspoon each for one teaspoon of Baharat). Those are the two main spices in Baharat (in addition to cumin) that you’d want to have in your Mujadara.
- Unlike other lentils and legumes, soaking is not required with green lentils.
- If possible, soak the rice in water for about 30 minutes before you begin (soaking improves the texture of rice – but it’s optional).
- Always wash the rice thoroughly. To do so, add the rice into a bowl and fill up with water. Stir with your hands. The water will turn whitish (due to the starch). Drain and repeat three times until the water is clear.
- Wash the lentils before you cook them. Make sure to remove any debris that might float on the surface. Unlike rice, one round is enough for lentils.
- The amount of water indicated in this recipe is for cooking the rice together with the lentils (step 6). You’ll need more water for washing and pre-cooking the lentils (the amount of water you add here isn’t important).
- The nutritional values are rough indications. They can vary according to the exact weight, type and brand of your ingredients.
Calories: 409kcalCarbohydrates: 66gProtein: 13gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gSodium: 211mgPotassium: 471mgFiber: 12gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 25IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 58mgIron: 4mg
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