Mujadarra (Middle Eastern Lentils and Rice)
Mujadarra is a famous middle eastern dish of lentils and rice with caramelized onions, and I loved this from the very first time I tasted it! This is definitely not a low-carb recipe, but it’s something I’d enjoy once in a while as a treat.
Mujadarra (pronounced moo-jha-druh) is a humble middle eastern dish of lentils and rice with caramelized onions. This is a recipe where the flavor is so much more than you’d expect from the simple ingredients used.
Years ago I started ordering Mujadarra at a now-closed Salt Lake restaurant which served it with Middle Eastern Tomato Salad around the the plate, the perfect way to eat it if you have tomatoes and fresh herbs on hand.
Then that restaurant closed, and I never found another place in Utah where I liked it as much. So recently I decided to get serious about making Mujadarra myself, and I adapted this classic lentils and rice recipe from Paula Wolfert’s The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean (affiliate link).
After waiting years to re-create a version of this dish I was happy with, I experimented until I loved how this turned out, and I’m sure it’s something I’m going to be making over and over again, even if it is a bit of a splurge on carbs.
What ingredients do you need?
(This is only a list of ingredients; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
- long-grain white rice (see notes)
- brown lentils
- yellow onions
- olive oil (use high-quality olive oil with good flavor for this dish)
- ground cumin
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
How do you spell Mujadarra?
The SLC restaurant where I learned to love this dish spelled it Mujadarra, so I had it imprinted into my brain with that spelling. And after looking online I decided that’s an acceptable spelling for this, but it’s also spelled Mujadara, Mujaddara, Mujadarah, and Mujadarrah in many recipes and articles around the web!
What kind of white rice did I use for Mujadarra?
It’s definitely not authentic for this dish, but I used Ben’s Original Converted Rice (affiliate link) because the converted rice is lower on the glycemic index than the traditional middle eastern rice.
How did I get the lentils and rice cooked at the same time?
Even after several tries, I couldn’t manage to cook the lentils and rice together without one or the other getting overcooked. What worked for me was to cook the rice separately and mix it into the cooked lentils and caramelized onions.
How to Make Mujadarra:
(This is only a summary of the steps for the recipe; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
- Rinse lentils, then add water and cook at a low simmer 20-30 minutes, until lentils are soft. Cover the cooked lentils and let sit so they absorb most of the water.
- Cook 3/4 cup long grain rice, either following the directions on the package or using a rice cooker like I did. I used Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice, which is a low-glycemic type of white rice, but Basmati rice would also be good. (Keep the rice warm until you need it.)
- Peel onions, then cut into quarter-slices to make 3 cups sliced onions. (I increased the amount of onion; next time I might increase the onion even more.)
- Heat olive oil in large heavy pan, then add onions and start to brown the onions over medium-low heat, stirring every few minutes. I cooked the onions for a total of 25 minutes browning time. (Don’t rush the browning step; you want the onions to slowly get golden brown.)
- Remove about half the onions to a paper towel, and let them drain and crisp while you finish the dish. These crispy onions bits are served on top of the cooked lentils and rice.
- Add cumin to the rest of the cooked onions and saute 1-2 minutes.
- Transfer the cooked lentils to the pan with the onions, leaving behind any liquid that hasn’t been absorbed. Season lentils with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook 2-3 minutes.
- Then gently mix the cooked rice into the lentils and onions, heating for a minute or two if needed.
- Serve hot or warm, with some of the crisp onions topping each serving.
Make it a Vegetarian Meal:
Mujadarra is great as a meatless meal served with Middle Eastern Tomato Salad on the side, which is the way I always order it in a restaurant. It would also make a great side dish with Falafel. Or you if don’t care if it’s a vegetarian meal you could serve it as a side dish with Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers or Kabob Koobideh.
- 3/4 cup long-grain white rice (see notes)
- 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
- 3 cups yellow onions, cut into quarter slices (or more)
- 1/3 cup olive oil (use high-quality olive oil with good flavor for this dish)
- 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Cook rice in water following package directions, or cook in a rice cooker.
- When rice is done, cover and keep warm until you add it to the lentils.
- Rinse lentils, then place in heavy pot with a tight fitting lid, add 1 quart water, and let lentils simmer over very low heat uncovered until they are soft (about 20-30 minutes, but cooking time will depend on how fresh the lentils are so keep checking until they are soft but still have a slight bite to them.)
- When lentils are cooked, cover and let water them absorb any leftover water.
- While lentils cook, cut onions into short slices.
- Heat olive oil in heavy frying pan, then add onions, reduce heat to medium-low and start to brown onions, stirring every few minutes.
- Continue to cook onions, stirring often, until they are deeply browned and caramelized, about 20-25 minutes. Don't rush this step; the onions can be bitter if they're cooked at too high of heat.
- When onions are browned, remove half the onions to drain on a paper towel to crisp.
- Sprinkle 1/4 tsp cumin into the rest of the onions in the pan and saute 1-2 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked lentils to the pan with the onions, leaving behind any water that's not absorbed.
- Season the cooked lentils and onions with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook 1-2 minutes to blend flavors.
- Gently mix cooked rice into the lentils and caramelized onions, heating for a minute or two if the rice is not hot.
- Put Mujadarra on a serving dish, top with crispy caramelized onions, and serve hot or warm.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 330Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 152mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 7gSugar: 9gProtein: 8g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.
Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
If this Mujadarra is made with a low-glycemic type of white rice such as Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice, this dish would be approved for phase 2 or 3 of the original South Beach Diet. It’s too high in carbs for a low-carb diet.
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Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This attempt to duplicate the Mujadarra I loved at the original Cafe Med in SLC was first posted in 2010. The recipe was last updated with more information in 2023.