Mujadara

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Vibe Israel generously gifted me a trip to Israel to help me create this post. However, I want to clarify that all opinions expressed in this post and my affection for Israel are entirely my own.

Mujadara, also known as Mejadra, is a popular Middle Eastern dish made with rice, lentils, and caramelized onions. The rice and lentils are cooked together with fragrant spices, giving the dish a warm and comforting flavor. The onions on top add a sweet and savory crunch to the dish. Serve Mejadra s a main vegetarian course or as a side dish with yogurt and/or a fresh salad.

Overhead image of Mujadara

Mujadara

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have caught a glimpse of my recent trip to Israel. During my visit, I was blown away by the incredible cuisine and I can’t wait to share more about it here.

While in Jaffa, Israel, we had the pleasure of visiting the home of a local Arab Christian woman named Doris. Together, we prepared an amazing feast that included Mujadara, tabbouleh, hummus, baba ghanoush, avocado salad, a roasted veggie dish with rice, and toasted Za’atar pitas. This was one of my favorite experiences while in Israel! Doris was an incredible host, and we had a wonderful time cooking and learning from her in her kitchen. 

Image of all the girls who visited Israel
This is the group of food bloggers (& friends!) I got to enjoy Israel with! From left to right: Kimber, Courtney, me, our tour guide Hadas, Bev, Melissa, Julie, Bar, Rachael, Aubrey, and Doris. Photo credit: Gala (@g.shraer)

One dish that particularly stood out to me was the Mujadara. The original recipe we made with Doris took a couple of hours to prepare, between the slow caramelization of onions and cooking lentils until they were perfectly tender. Since coming home, I’ve found a way to streamline the process that includes a few shortcuts to make this dish in under 30 minutes. As someone who loves the taste of Mujadara but struggles to find the time to make it as frequently as I’d like (especially since we like it as a side dish instead of a main course), I’m excited to share this quicker version of the recipe.

Doris graciously shared her recipe with me, and I’ve made a few modifications to make it practical for weeknight meals without sacrificing flavor. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do!

[quickitp] Mujadara has different variations and names depending on where you are. Some of the spelling variations include mujadarra, mujadarah, majadra, mejadra, moujadara, mudardara, and megadarra. [/quicktip] 

Process shots of Mujadara-- images of the spices and rice being sautéed

SHORTCUTS

Here are some options to make Mujadara more quickly:

  • Use canned lentils: Soaking and cooking lentils from scratch can be time-consuming. Instead, opt for canned lentils that are already cooked and ready to go.
  • Use pre-fried onions: Caramelizing onions is a slow process, taking up to an hour to achieve the right texture and flavor. Instead, consider purchasing french-fried onions from the store. (They’re usually located with canned vegetables or with salad toppings.) This will give you a similar great taste without the time investment.

By using these two shortcuts, you can have a delicious bowl of Mujadara on the table in 30 minutes or less, making it a perfect option for a busy weeknight dinner.

A More Authentic Mujadara

If you’re looking to make a more authentic version of Mujadara, here’s the recipe that Doris taught us. The key ingredient in Mujadara is caramelized onions, so it’s important to start by thoroughly caramelizing them. To do this, heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large, deep skillet and add 3 large, thinly sliced onions. Cook the onions over low heat for about 50 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally, until they are deeply caramelized. Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions to a separate plate and salt them lightly.

If you’re using dried lentils, start by soaking them for about an hour and then draining them. Add more oil, drained lentils, seasonings, salt, and water to the same pan you cooked the onions in. Cook until the lentils are soft, and then add the rice. Doris recommends using less rice than lentils – if you use 2 cups of lentils, use 1 cup of rice. Make sure to add enough water to the pan to cover everything (but not above). Cover and cook until the rice is tender. Let rest, and then fluff everything up and add lots of fresh herbs.

Process shots-- images of the lentils, water, salt, and sugar being added to the pot

How To Make Mujadara (Tips)

  • The fresh parsley and green onions add a lot of flavor and brightness to this dish. Don’t skimp on them!
  • Adding a squeeze of lemon juice just before serving can help brighten up the flavors and add a touch of acidity.
  • To keep the fried onions from getting soggy, it’s best to keep them separate from the rice until right before serving.
  • Mujadara is best served immediately after being made. If you need to store it, keep the rice and lentils separate from the onions until you’re ready to serve.
  • If you’re using canned lentils, be sure to thoroughly rinse and drain them before adding them to the dish.
  • Finally, be patient during the resting period. If you rush it, the rice could end up mushy. Give the dish time to rest and absorb the remaining liquid before serving.

Process shots of Mujadara- images of the herbs being mixed through

STORAGE

Storing Leftovers

To store Mujadara, be sure to keep the pilaf (rice and lentil mixture) separate from the onions. Allow time for it to cool to room temperature and transfer to an airtight container. You can keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. If you want to store it for a longer time, you can freeze it in a freezer-safe container for up to 2-3 months.

When you’re ready to eat, you can reheat the Mujadara in the microwave or on the stovetop. If it seems too dry, you can add a little bit of water or broth to moisten it. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and add the fried onions on top right before serving.

Up-close overhead image of the dish in a bowl

What To Serve With Mujudara

Mujadara is a flavorful and hearty dish that can be served as a side or vegetarian main course.

Traditionally, it is served with a side of yogurt and a simple salad of diced cucumbers and tomatoes dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.

You can also serve it with pita, hummus, pickled vegetables, or roasted vegetables such as eggplant, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts. For a more substantial meal, you can serve it with falafel, grilled chicken or lamb.

My personal favorite way to eat it is with a big scoop of yogurt and some seasoned grilled chicken.

More Favorite Recipes Using Lentils:

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Mujadara

5 from 2 votes
Mujadara, also known as Mejadra, is a popular Middle Eastern dish made with rice, lentils, and caramelized onions. The rice and lentils are cooked together with fragrant spices, giving the dish a warm and comforting flavor. The onions on top add a sweet and savory crunch to the dish. Mejadra is often served as a main vegetarian course or as a side dish with yogurt and/or a fresh salad.
Print Recipe

Mujadara

5 from 2 votes
Mujadara, also known as Mejadra, is a popular Middle Eastern dish made with rice, lentils, and caramelized onions. The rice and lentils are cooked together with fragrant spices, giving the dish a warm and comforting flavor. The onions on top add a sweet and savory crunch to the dish. Mejadra is often served as a main vegetarian course or as a side dish with yogurt and/or a fresh salad.
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine israeli, middle eastern, Vegetarian
Keyword Mujadara
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 -6 as a side
Chelsea Lords
Calories 522kcal
Cost $7.98

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • teaspoons each: ground cumin and ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 cup white basmati rice uncooked (Note 1)
  • 1⅓ cup water
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • Fine sea salt and pepper
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley finely chopped (~½ bunch)
  • ½ cup finely chopped green onions (~1 bunch)
  • For serving: crispy fried onions
  • Optional, for serving: lemon wedges, yogurt, Israeli salad

Instructions

  • SPICES AND RICE: Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add ground cumin, coriander, garlic powder, and turmeric. Sauté stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add rice and sauté for 1 minute.
  • ADD LENTILS: Add the water, drained and rinsed lentils, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste (I add 1¼ tsp salt & ¼ tsp pepper). Bring to a boil; then turn heat to medium-low. Cover with a lid and cook for 10-14 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. (It's okay if there is still a little liquid; it will absorb during resting.) Keeping the lid on, remove the entire pot from heat and let it stand for 10 minutes. Don't rush this step!
  • FINISHING TOUCHES: After 10 minutes, remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Stir in the finely chopped parsley and green onions. Taste and season with more seasonings if needed. Transfer rice and lentils to a wide serving platter and drizzle the remaining 1 tbsp oil over everything. Squeeze on some fresh lemon if desired. Top with crispy onions and enjoy warm! Great with a dollup of yogurt too!

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Rice: If you use a variety of rice other than basmati, you'll likely need a bit more liquid. But if possible, use basmati rice, it truly works the best here! Also, no need to rinse the rice first here or you may end up with too much liquid.
Note 2: Using real onions and dried lentils: If you're looking to make a more authentic version of Mujadara, here's the recipe that Doris taught us: The key ingredient in Mujadara is caramelized onions, so it's important to start by thoroughly caramelizing them. To do this, heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large, deep skillet and add 3 large, thinly sliced onions. Cook the onions over low heat for about 50 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally, until they are deeply caramelized. Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions to a separate plate and lightly salt them.
If you're using dried lentils, start by soaking them for about an hour and then draining them. To the same pan that you caramelized the onions in, add more oil, the drained lentils, seasonings, salt, and water. Cook until the lentils are soft, and then add the rice. Doris recommends using less rice than lentils - if you use 2 cups of lentils, use 1 cup of rice. Make sure to add enough water to the pan to cover everything to the same height (but not above). Cover and cook until the rice is tender. Let rest then fluff everything up and add lots of fresh herbs.
Nutrition information does not include the fried onions.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 522kcal | Carbohydrates: 83g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 17mg | Potassium: 929mg | Fiber: 18g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 773IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 8mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I have been a faithful follower of your blog for a good while now ;-). I was so thrilled that you got a chance to visit Israel and that you enjoyed the delicious cuisine Israel has to offer!! And I’ve been wanting to Mejadra so was very excited to give this recipe a try. It did not disappoint!!! Easy to make and very tasty (and quick ;-). I went the shortcut route but next time dried lentils/fried onions it is! I paired it with you air fryer falafel which was also very tasty, where I substituted spinach vs. cilantro as the last time in Israel, I ate some spinach falafel that I’m still craving for ;-). Thanks for sharing these recipes, hope there are more Middle Eastern cuisine to come.

    1. You are so sweet Eva! Thank you so much for being so supportive! It means the world! There will be definitely more to come! 🙂

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