This authentic Mujadara is an easy delicious Lebanese lentils and rice recipe topped with caramelized onions. The ingredients used are typically always kept in the pantry and are inexpensive. Mujadara hails from the Middle East as a signature dish.
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What is Mujadara?
Mujadara is a Levant meal of rice (or wheat) and lentils topped with a generous amount of caramelized onions.
This simple Lebanese lentils and rice recipe produces a lot of flavor and is the epitome of vegan Lebanese food, a flavorsome comfort food loved by kids and adults.
If you are ever in doubt about what to make that’s super tasty, high in protein and makes a wonderful leftover, think Lebanese mujadara. There are many variations, check out the different types of mujadara.
How To Pronounce Mujadara
Mujadara is pronounced as moo·jah·dah·rah. As this is a Lebanese mujadara, it is pronounced as mmm·jad·rah (lazy slang) and can also be written as mjadara.
Different Levant countries pronounce it differently, it is also known as megadara (Egyptian), mejedera (Armenian), moujadarar, mujadarrah and a few other variations.
😋Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s family-friendly - both children and adults love this meal for either lunch or dinner
- An authentic mujadara recipe passed through the generations of my family
- This is a naturally vegan Lebanese recipe that is also gluten-free
- Very easy to make using easy ingredients resulting in huge flavors - You only need 3 major ingredients, you can master the most amazing Lebanese lentils and rice recipe.
- Makes great leftovers
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and quantities can be found in the recipe card below.
Brown Lentils – some people know this lentil as green lentils. Either way, it’s always best to use dry lentils over canned.
On the odd occasion, I’ve used the canned variety which is typically smaller in appearance and a darker shade of brown.
Canned lentils do not require to be par boiled as written below.
When using dry brown lentils, it’s best to wash them, sort them (if needed) and then soak them for about 30 minutes prior to using. This will quicken the cooking.
Rice – white rice is preferred, we prefer to use basmati as it cooks the quickest. My mum prefers to wash and soak her rice for about 10-15 minutes to rid of extra starch. I personally don’t do this step. Both work well.
If you do give brown rice a try, let me know in the comments below – I would say the taste would be different as there is a distinct difference between the two kinds of rice.
Note – brown rice will require longer cooking times.
Onion – white or brown onions are best. You will need to cut the onions 2 ways;
- Finely diced, almost minced to be used within the mujadara – this is our family’s secret ingredient that really BOOSTS the flavor tenfold. Anyone who has eaten our mujaddara has always commented on how flavorsome it is.
- Finely sliced to be caramelized for topping the lentils and rice
Olive Oil – always opt for the best extra virgin olive oil, it really does make a difference in taste.
Salt – this is to taste
Onions divided - top is thinly sliced, used for topping on the lentils and rice and bottom is thinly diced (almost minced) and cooked within the rice and lentils.
🔪How to Make Mujadara?
Step 1 – Over high heat, heat olive oil in a bottom-heavy pot and add finely sliced onion, fry until dark brown, set onion aside
Step 2 – In the same pot, using the same oil (with another optional 1 teaspoon olive oil fry the finely diced onion until lightly golden
Step 3 – Add lentils, and salt and submerge in water (covering lentils at least 1cm (⅓") above), cook on med-high heat until lentils are parboiled
Step 4 – Add rice and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and allow to cook, stirring no more than three times.
Step 5 – Serve mujadara topped with caramelized onion
To identify par boiled lentils, simply pick out a couple of lentils using your thumb and index finger, squeeze between the two and if the lentil has a soft outer and hard inner, then it is par boiled
As our family secret ingredient gives this recipe a boost in flavor, there is no need to add any spices, however, some do add cumin and or 7 spice.
Authentic mujadara contains minimal ingredients
Only use brown lentils (some call the green), any other color will result in a different outcome.
Be careful when caramelizing onions, toward the end they will brown fast and it's often a matter of seconds before they burn.
When cooking mujadara, the entire recipe is always cooked in one pot. No need to fuss about additional washing.
Get yourself a bottom-heavy pot, thin pots will burn the rice and may turn out mushy.
Do not over-stir the lentils and rice as this will cause it to break apart and become mushy
Don’t use quick-cook microwave rice
🥗What to Serve With Mujadara?
If you want to eat like a true Middle Eastern - Mujadara is typically served warm or cool:
I personally love eating it with a side of freshly cut radish too.
Pickles, typically lifit, which is a pickled pink turnip. The saltyness compliments the mjadara.
Cucumber yoghurt salad called Khiyar bi Laban (which means cucumber in yogurt)
Or read this round-up of what to serve with mujadara.
Once the mujadara has completely cooled down to room temperature, store it in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Mujaddara can also be frozen once cooked and cooled to room temperature, place portions into air-tight containers and place in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost/heat as required. Mujaddara makes a wonderful leftover.
Yes, although the flavor isn’t the same. For the caramelized onions, use a non-stick pan and water fry them until they have wilted and are somewhat brown (note - these will be nothing like the authentic caramelized onions) When cooking the lentils and rice, replace the oil with water.
🍴Other Vegan Lebanese Recipes
If you're loving this vegan Lebanese mjadara recipe, then you will love this childhood favourite of mine lentils and pasta soup called rishtayeh. Or try this red lentils and rice variation called Mujadara safra.
Haytaliyeh - Such an easy-to-make milky pudding dessert
Batinjan Mahshi - how does rice stuffed into eggplant sound?
Lebanese Zaatar - the most coveted herb seasoning from the middle east which can be used in pasta, on bread, as a rub or in dressings. A must-have!
Lebanese lemon lentil soup - it's the perfect vegan soup, filled with veggies, lentils in a sour broth.
A similar non-Lebanese recipe is my delicious yellow split pea dal a tasty comfort food.
Mujadara (Lebanese Lentils and Rice)
- 300 grams Onions sliced
- ½ cup Olive oil
- 2.5 cups Brown lentils
- 2 cups Basmati rice
- 6 cups water 3 cups for soaking and 3 cups for cooking
- 300 grams Onion finely diced, almost minced
- ¾ tablespoon Salt
- Over high heat olive oil in pot and add finely sliced onion, fry until dark brown, set onion aside300 grams Onion
- In the same pot, using same oil fry finely diced onion until lightly golden300 grams Onion
- Add lentils and salt. Submerge in water (covering lentils at least 1cm above), cook on med-high heat until lentils are par boiled2.5 cups Brown lentils, ¾ tablespoon Salt, 6 cups water
- Add rice and bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and allow contents to cook, stirring no more than three times. This should take around 15 minutes2 cups Basmati rice
- Serve topped with caramelised onion
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.