Mujadara Hamra hails from the South of Lebanon. It is a flavorsome dish made from caramelized onions, lentils and bulgur. Accidentally a vegan Lebanese recipe.
This website receives a commission/fee for each purchase bought through the affiliate links on this website.
What is Mujadara Hamra?
Mujadara Hamra is part of the mujadara family of recipes which originates from the Middle East, it is especially popular in the Levant region.
The main ingredient in any mujadara is lentils, which is why it is called mujadara which translates from Arabic to English as “pockmarked”.
The Arabic word “hamra” translates to “red” in English. So you see, this is a red mujadara recipe.
This authentic Lebanese mujadara recipe without rice is from the South of Lebanon, using bulgur rather than rice.
What Does Mujadara Hamra Taste Like?
I grew up mostly eating the rice version, but this recipe is equally amazing in flavor, in fact, it tastes nothing like the rice version.
Mujadara hamra is unique in flavor, which is from the caramelized onions. The flavor is savory sweet and a little earthy and nutty.
The savory sweetness is from the caramelization of the onions, a rich dark red-brown color that turns sweet and then lentils provide the savoriness when cooked with salt.
It is important to know that a true Mujadara with bulgur gets it’s color and flavor from the onions.
The earthiness and nuttiness are from the cracked wheat.
There are several types of mujadara, the lentils are either paired with rice or cracked wheat and are made either as a pilaf or porridge-like.
You can check out the different types of mujadara.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- The flavors of lentils and bulgur cooked in caramelized onions are divine. If you are new to this recipe, I’m almost certain you’ve never tried anything similar in flavor.
- It’s nutritious and wholesome, due to its lentil content mujadara is high in iron.
- Is great for lunch or dinner.
- This Lebanese lentil and bulgur dish is inexpensive and filling, making it ideal to feed a family.
- This is an authentic South Lebanon recipe, it doesn’t require any additional spices.
- Dietary friendly. Mujadara with bulgur is naturally vegan.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and their measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Brown Lentils some people refer to these as dark red lentils. Avoid using any other types of lentils are the color of these lentils also helps to achieve the color of this dish.
I have taken a photo illustrating the lentils you should be using to help avoid any confusion.
Always check your lentils (discard any debris), rinse and soak in water prior to cooking, see the how to make mujdara hamra section below. You can buy brown lentils here (affiliate link).
Extra Coarse red cracked bulgur (burghul) results in a nice textured pilaf just like this bulgur with vermicelli.
Avoid using the light-colored coarse bulgur as again, the color of this ingredient is important to achieving the red coloring of the overall dish.
See below the difference between the two types of bulgur I am referring to.
Again discard any debris, and rinse your bulgur.
Bulgur contains gluten.
You can buy red bulgur here (affiliate link) or at your local Middle Eastern grocer, some larger grocery stores will also sell this ingredient.
Brown onions need to be finely diced. It is vital that the onions are diced as finely as possible as they must not be obvious in the finished dish.
When I am lazy (all the time haha), I like to use my Ninja food processor’s (affiliate link) chop function to help me achieve this. Works perfectly every time.
Extra virgin olive oil, use one with a robust flavor. Unfortunately, this is a dish I do not recommend skipping the oil as it is vital to the finished dish. I have reduced the amount of oil usually used to a point where this recipe is perfect!
Salt I find ¾ of a tablespoon to suffice, however, you can add more if you wish.
Water is used to simmer the caramelized onions, brown lentils and bulgur. It is also used to pre-soak the lentils.
How To Make Mujadara Hamra
Prepare The Lentils
Check lentils for stones that need to be discarded by sifting through them. Wash them and then soak in boiling water for at least four hours (you can soak them overnight).
I like to place mine in boiling water (I do this to speed up the cooking process by softening the lentils as much as possible)
Caramelize The Onions
Heat the extra virgin olive oil and finely diced onions in a non-stick heavy bottom pot (affiliate link) over high-medium heat. Fry for about 30 minutes (or until dark brown).
The trick with caramelizing onions to get that super dark brown tinge is to be patient, this is the longest step in this recipe.
In the beginning, you can stir every few minutes, but once the onions start to brown you will need to continuously stir them until the right color is achieved, otherwise, they will burn.
The right color onions are a dark reddish brown.
Simmer The Lentils
Once the onions are dark brown, stir through 3 cups of water and the salt. Let the color of the water change to the color of the onions, this will take a minute or two.
Drain the lentils from the water they were soaking in and add them to the onions.
Bring the lentils to a soft boil, turn the heat down to medium and allow them to simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally.
Add The Extra Coarse Bulgur
The lentils should now be par-cooked, add the rinsed extra coarse bulgur to the lentils and another 1¼ cups of water.
Stir it through and allow it to simmer for another 20 minutes with the lid on or until cooked. Stir occasionally in the first 15 minutes and then do not open the pot for the last five minutes.
Turn off the heat and allow the pot to stand with the lid on for 5 minutes so the steam is absorbed by the bulgur.
Mujdara hamra should be soft and not mushy. Serve warm or cold with salad.
Use a heavy bottom nonstick pot (affiliate link) - a thin pot will burn the bottom and turn the mjadara mushy. Trust me I learned the hard way!
Once the mujadara hamra has cooled down to room temperature, transfer it to an air-tight container and store it in the fridge for up to five days.
I grew up slurping on Lebanese Lentil Soup known as shorbet adas as a starter to mujadara.
Another fabulous side to enjoy with lentils and burgul are pickles, here's my pickled vegetables recipe that would be perfect for this. I salivate thinking about this meal!
Or read this round-up of various sides for what to serve with mujadara.
Bulgur is a whole wheat product made from cracked wheat grains that have been cleaned, parboiled (partially cooked), dried, and then cracked into different sizes. It is a staple ingredient in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.
Bulgur comes in various forms, including fine, medium, and coarse grinds, each of which is suitable for different dishes. It is often used in pilafs, salads (such as tabbouleh), soups, and stuffings. Bulgur has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture, and it's a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making it a nutritious addition to various dishes. It's also popular for its convenience in the kitchen, as it requires minimal cooking time compared to other whole grains. Bulgur contains gluten.
It isn't ideal as it will turn out completely different. There are other types of mujadara using different colored lentils such as mujadara safra (yellow variety).
In English mujadara is pronounced 'moo-jad-dara'
Depending on what dialect of Arabic you speak, mujadara can be called mjadara, mejadara, madadarah, moujadara.
Other Vegan Lebanese Recipes
If you love this mujadara hamra recipe, here are other mujadara recipes you must try, they are all so delish!
- Mujadara recipe with rice
- Mujadara makhbousa - a lentil porridge also known as mujadara musafaya
- Mujadara safra (yellow mujadara) - simmered red lentils and rice
For something sweet with rice, try this Lebanese rice pudding (riz bi haleeb)
Did you make this? I'd love to know! Leave me a comment below with a ★★★★★ rating or tag @plantbasedfolk on social media.
Mujadara Hamra (Lentils and Bulgur)
- Check lentils for stones that need to be discarded. Wash and soak in boiling water for at least four hours. You can also soak the brown lentils overnight.1 cup Brown lentils, 3 cups Boiling water
Caramelize The Onions
- Heat the olive oil in a non-stick pot over high- medium heat. Add the finely diced onions and fry for about 25-30 minutes (or until dark brown). See note 1.¼ cup Olive oil, 4 medium Onions
Simmer The Lentils
- Once the onions are dark brown, stir through 3 cups of water and the salt. Let the color of the water change to the color of the onions, this will take a minute or two. Drain the lentils from the water they were soaking in and add them to the onions. Bring the lentils to a soft boil, turn the heat down to medium and allow them to simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally. See note 2.½ cup Extra coarse bulgur, 4¼ cups Water, ¾ tablespoon Salt
Add The Extra Coarse Bulgur
- Add the rinsed cracked bulgur to the par-cooked lentils and another 1¼ cups of water. Give everything a stir and simmer for another 20 minutes with the lid on or until cooked. Stir twice in the first 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pot to stand with the lid on for 5 minutes so the steam is absorbed by the bulgur. Mujdara hamra should not be mushy. Serve warm or cold with salad.
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.
If you enjoyed this recipe, consider supporting my work for the cost of a cup of coffee.