This authentic Mujadara is an easy delicious lentils and rice recipe topped with caramelised onions. The ingredients used are typically always kept in the pantry and are inexpensive. Mujadara hails from the middle-east as a signature dish.
If you are ever in doubt about what to make that’s super tasty, high in protein and makes a wonderful left over, think Lebanese mujadara.
Only need 3 major ingredients, you can master the most amazing lentils and rice recipe.
If you want to eat like a true Middle Eastern - Mjadara is typically served warm:
- With a side of salad, mostly, tabouli, fattoush, khyar bi laban (cucumber yoghurt salad), or red cabbage. I personally love eating it with a side of freshly cut radish.
- Pickles, typically lifit, which is a pickled pink turnip.
- Soup – we always have our mujadara with Lebanese lentil soup or Mujadara porridge (Lentil porridge)
- Cucumber yoghurt called Khiyar bi Laban (which means cucumber in yoghurt)
This middle eastern recipe is the epitome of vegan Lebanese food, a flavoursome comfort food loved by kids and adults. Whenever I make this, the entire family will try to be first in to help themselves to a bigger serving of caramelised onions.
How to pronounce Mujadara
Mujadara is also said as mjadara and is pronounced as ‘mo-jad-dara’
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 are typically smaller in appearance and a darker shade of brown. Canned lentils also 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 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 rices. Note – brown rice will require longer cooking times.
Onion – white or brown onion are best. You will need to cut the onions 2 ways;
- Finely diced, almost minced to be used within the mjadara – this is our family’s secret ingredient that really BOOSTS the flavour tenfold. Anyone who has eaten our mujaddara has always commented on how flavoursome it is.
- Finely sliced to be caramelised 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) cooked within the rice and lentils.
Thinly sliced caramelised onion - so so good!
Did you know there are a few variations of how to make mujadara? Here are a few below:
- Mujadara Hamra - hailing from the South of Lebanon, Mujadara Hamra is the lentils and bulgur version, equally just as tasty! You should check it out
- Mujadara makhbousa - a filling and warming lentil porridge also known as mujadara musafaya
Step 1 – Over high heat olive oil in pot and add finely sliced onion, fry until dark brown, set onion aside
Step 2 – In the same pot, using same oil (with another 1 teaspoon olive oil fry finely diced onion until lightly golden
Step 3 – Add lentils, salt and submerge in water (covering lentils at least 1cm above), cook on med-high heat until lentils are par boiled
Step 4 – Add rice and bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and allow to cook, stirring no more three times.
Step 5 – Serve topped with caramelised 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 flavour, there is no need to add any spices, however some do add cumin and or 7 spice.
Mujaddara makes a wonderful left over. Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Only use brown lentils, any other colour will result in a different outcome.
Be careful when caramelising onion, toward the end it will brown fast and it's often a matter of seconds before it burns
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 rice as this will cause it to break apart and become mushy
Don’t use quick cook microwave rice
Other Vegan Lebanese Recipes
If you're loving this vegan Lebanese recipe, then you will love some of my other ones too;
- Mujadara pairs perfectly with a fresh fattoush salad
- 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 pastas, on breads, as a rub or in dressings. A must have!
- Lemon lentil soup - it's the perfect vegan soup, filled with veggies, lentils in a sour broth.
Mujadara (Lebanese Lentils & Rice)
- Over high heat olive oil in pot and add finely sliced onion, fry until dark brown, set onion aside
- In the same pot, using same oil fry finely diced onion until lightly golden
- Add lentils and salt. Submerge in water (covering lentils at least 1cm above), cook on med-high heat until lentils are par boiled
- 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 minutes
- Serve topped with caramelised onion
- It's best to wash lentils in cold water and then soak for about 30 minutes prior to cooking
- Step 2 - you may require to add an additional teaspoon of olive oil if too much was taken out at step 1
- Step 3 & 4 - you may need to add additional water to ensure all contents is submerged in 1cm of water
- 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
- Be careful when caramelising onion, toward the end it will brown fast and it's often a matter of seconds before it burns
- 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 rice as this will cause it to break apart and become mushy
- Don’t use quick cook microwave rice
- Serving suggestion will yield left overs