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Lentils and Rice – Mujadara

35 mins Cook
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Do you know Mujadhara? It’s a beautiful dish, layered with lentils and rice on the bottom, followed by caramelized onions (more delightful), and some creamy or tangy sauces on the side. A favorite dish to order at Middle Eastern restaurants. , and this recipe tastes just like that.

You can also try my recipe of Koshari a healthy recipe from Egypt.

Mujadara comes in many forms in the Middle East and has different names depending on the location. There are many different spelling variations such as Mujadara, Mujadara, Majadra, Mejadra, Moujadara, Mudardara and Megadarra.

Mujadara is a very inexpensive vegetarian meal that will help you stand out at your next gathering.

Gluten-free and slightly vegan/dairy-free, making it especially suitable for dieters (substitute yogurt for hummus or tahini his sauce).

After all Mujadara is fun! Want to learn how?

I’ve always wanted to master this recipe. When the March-April issue of Milk Street with Mujadara on the cover arrived in my mailbox, it looked like a sign. I was really excited to read that her recipe cooks both rice and lentils in the same pan–amazing, right? I made a change to make the recipe a little more nutritious. I changed the white rice to brown rice. Brown rice makes this Mujadara recipe even more hearty and flavorful.

Cooking the onions in extra virgin olive oil instead of peanut oil worked well. Finally, more fresh herbs were added to spice up the finished dish.

Mujadara (Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions) - NOMNOMWOW
Mujadara (Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions) – NOMNOMWOW

How to Cook Mujadara

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.

Important Notes & Tips

This recipe is designed for a specific, easy-to-find variety of rice and lentils. The easiest workaround is to cook the lentils and rice separately until tender, drain well and then stir them together. It is written In theory, any type of regular cooked brown rice will work, but basmati brown rice is the most traditional. If using white basmati rice, see instructions in recipe notes.

Also suitable for standard uncooked brown or green lentils (canned or red/yellow/black). beluga/french green lentils not allowed). Want to replace a canned lens? Rinse, drain, and mix 2 cans of lentils into the cooked rice. Do you want to change to another type of lens? It is best to cook them separately and mix them with rice.

Lentils and Rice - Mujadara

Do you know Mujadhara? It's a beautiful dish, layered with lentils and rice on the bottom, followed by caramelized onions (more delightful), and some creamy or tangy sauces on the side. A favorite dish to order at Middle Eastern restaurants. , and this recipe tastes just like that.
prep time
25 mins
cooking time
35 mins
total time
1 hour



  • 4 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 ¾ teaspoons fine sea salt, divided

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 5 cups water

  • 1 cup brown* basmati rice (regular, not quick-cooking), rinsed and drained

  • 1 cup regular brown or green lentils**, picked over for debris, rinsed and drained

  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 medium-to-large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced

  • ½ cup thinly sliced green onions (from 1 bunch), divided

  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, divided

  • Plain whole-milk or Greek yogurt, for serving

  • Spicy sauce, for serving (optional): shatta or zhoug or store-bought chili-garlic sauce or even sriracha


In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, combine garlic, bay leaves, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and freshly ground black pepper about 20 times. Add water and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.
When the rice is cooked, turn the heat down to medium. Cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting heat as needed to maintain a controlled simmer. Cover again, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until water is absorbed and rice and lentils are tender, about 20-23 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. When the onions are hot enough to sizzle, add the rest of the onions. mix.
Stir about every 3 minutes at first. Then stir when the onions start to brown on the sides of the skillet. If the onions are browned before they soften, reduce the heat and wait. Cook until the onions are caramelized and edges are crisp, about 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line a large plate or cutting board with paper towels.
Using a slotted spoon or spatula, spread the onions evenly over the plate. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt over the onion
It will become crispy as it cools.
When the lentils and rice are done cooking, drain the excess water (if any), return the mixture to the pot and remove from heat. Cover the pot with a towel to absorb the steam, cover with a towel and let it steam for 10 minutes.
Remove the lid, discard the bay leaf, and knock the garlic against the side of the pan with a fork. Add about 3/4 of the leeks and cilantro, and reserve the rest for garnish. Lightly stir the rice and flake it with a fork. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
Place the rice and lentil mixture on a platter or bowl. Garnish with caramelized onions and remaining green onions and cilantro. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature with yogurt and hot sauce (optional).


*BROWN RICE NOTES: This recipe is specifically designed for regular (not quick-cooking) brown rice. Any variety of regular brown rice will theoretically work, though basmati is the most traditional choice. You can find brown basmati rice (Lundberg brand) at most well-stocked grocery stores, or you can buy it at Trader Joe’s (they sell both regular and quick-cooking brown basmati, so be sure to buy the regular). *TO MAKE THIS RECIPE WITH WHITE BASMATI RICE INSTEAD: Cook the lentils in the boiling water first for about 10 minutes (until somewhat softened on the outside/still firm in the middle), then add the rice and cook until both lentils and rice are tender, about 25 minutes. **LENTIL NOTES: You want to use standard-issue uncooked brown or green lentils, not red or yellow lentils or fancy French green or black beluga lentils or canned lentils. Those all have different cooking times, which won’t work with these instructions. If you want to use a different type of lentil for this recipe, cook it in a separate pot from the rice, then stir them together before serving (canned lentils would simply need to be rinsed and drained before using). MAKE IT DAIRY FREE/VEGAN: This is easy! Replace the yogurt with something similarly creamy and tangy, like classic hummus or tahini sauce. PREPARE IN ADVANCE: This recipe is a great candidate for making ahead. You could gently reheat the lentil and rice mixture and onions (reserve fresh herbs for the end), or just let it warm to room temperature.
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