Mujadara (Mujjadra) is a signature Middle Eastern dish of lentils and rice garnished with caramelized onions.
I have come across Chef in Disguise’s Mujadara recipe and an immediate craving for a hearty bowl of lentils and rice loaded with onions quickly arose. I got up and grabbed the three main ingredients needed and some canola oil and began to cook. Soon the smell of fried onions filled the entire house and only then I was relieved.
Mujadara is a well-known dish throughout the Middle East and is generally made using brown or green lentils and rice that can be seasoned with cumin and coriander. The main ingredients in Mujadara include: lentils, rice, olive oil and onions which is the ultimate pantry recipe. The crispy onions topping is the best part, so be sure to make a LOT. I usually serve Mujadara with garlic yogurt sauce and a side of green salad such as my simple Middle Eastern Salad or Fatoush.
Cooked lentils are popular all over the Arab World and form the basis of many dishes. In the Middle East, Mujadara is known more as “poor man’s food” or peasant food due to the fact that lentils and rice are the cheapest and most accessible food to have. This Mujadara recipe is very simple spiced with salt, pepper and a blend of Arabic spices. The main flavor maker here is the onions fried to the point of dark golden brown. This is what gives the rice the beautiful depth, both in color and taste.
In Egyptian cuisine, lentils, rice, macaroni and tomato sauce cooked together are known as Kushari. Simply put, Mujadara is the Middle Eastern take on rice and beans. The ingredients should all be easy to find at your local market. The kind of lentils that is best for Mujadara is small dark brown lentils. You can find them at the international section of your grocery store or in bulk barn. However, I didn’t have brown lentils at the time and opted for green lentils instead. The results were just the same. So, go grab the ingredients and make this dish for your family, they will sure thank you for it.
This recipe is an adaptation of Chef in Disguise’s Mujadara recipe. For more details, don’t forget to go and check Sawsan’s beautiful blog. She shares a wide range of great recipes and beautifully made and photographed Middle Eastern dishes.
- 1 1/2 cups rice
- 1 cup brown or green lentils (I used green )
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon seven spices
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon dried ground coriander
- A pinch of cardamom
- Salt and pepper to taste ( I used about 2 teaspoons salt)
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 2-3 medium onions cut into strips
- Wash your rice to remove surface starch and any processing debris. Soak it in water for 15-20 minutes
- In a medium saucepan, place lentils with 4 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil and then lower the heat and cook the lentils until they are done (note: lentils differ in their cooking time, so make sure that yours is fully cooked)
- In the meantime, sauté your onions in about ¼ cup anola oil until they are golden brown
- Drain the lentils reserving the water. In the same saucepan, place the oil, lentils, rice, spices, ground pepper and salt. Add about 1 1/2-2 cups of water and cook.
- Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cover the saucepan until all the rice absorbs the water
- Fluff with a fork and it should look something like this
- Serve topped with caramelized onions
According to epicurious, Lentils vary in their cooking time depending on several factors, including age. Yours may take longer to become tender, but they shouldn’t take much more than an hour. Hard water can also affect the cooking time.