Mujadara (mujaddara) is a signature Middle Eastern dish of lentils, rice, and deeply caramelized onions. A bold and comforting dish that's typically served with a topping of crispy onion rings and a side of plain yogurt with a fresh Mediterranean salad such as cucumber and tomato salad, fattoush salad, or shirazi salad.

A serving spoon filled with mujadara

Mujadara or Mujaddara!

Literally means "pockmarked" in Arabic, Mujadara is a signature Middle Eastern dish made of three key ingredients: lentils, rice, and loads of onions! The seasoning is often very simple-a dash of kosher salt, pepper, and cumin. Sometimes, coarse bulgur wheat is used instead of white rice, an equally delicious variation.

This simple vegan lentils and rice dish is known throughout the Middle East, and particularly the Levant including, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, as a "poor man's" meal. But take one bite, and you'll be surprised by how comforting and flavorful mujadara is!

When I need something meatless but hearty, mujadara is one of my go-to meals, thanks to satisfying, protein and fiber-packed black lentils. In fact, Egypt's Copts (Christians) often serve lentils and rice during the Great Holy Fast in the spring, when "fasters" are required to eat a mainly vegan diet for 55 days!

The secret to authentic mujadara!

The secret to an authentic mujadara recipe is in the onions! This dish starts and ends with onions. First, deeply caramelized chopped onions are cooked with the rice and lentils, imparting flavor and the deep, golden hue this dish is known for. And to finish your mujdara, you'll top the cooked rice and lentils with thinly sliced, crispy onion ring! Comforting and bold in the best way.

A closeup image of mujadara

What kind of lentils to use for mujadara?

I use these all-natural black lentils for mujadara. These petite lentils cook fairly quickly, and they have a wonderful earthy flavor and good texture that they don't lose their shape when cooked with the rice. Brown lentils will also work, but I prefer black lentils here. Browse all our all-natural lentils.

The rice

You can use long grain or short grain white rice to make mujadara. It's important to rinse the rice well until the water runs clear, then soak it for about 20 minutes or so in cold water until you are able to easily break one grain of rice. This will ensure that the rice cooks quickly and evenly, and it will help avoid mushy rice. If you want to use brown rice instead, you'll extend the cooking time a bit.

As mentioned earlier, coarse bulgur is also another option for mujadara. If you want to use it instead, the cooking process is similar. Just give the grains a good rinse and allow them to soak for a few minutes before cooking until the bulgur is somewhat tender.

A plate of mujadara on a towel

How to make mujadara

Here is the step-by-step tutorial for how to make authentic mujadara (the print-friendly recipe with ingredient measurements):

  • Par-cook the lentils. In a saucepan, combine 1 cup of rinsed black lentils with 2 cups of water and a dash of salt. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat and simmer, covered until the lentils are par-boiled (10 minutes). Remove from the heat, drain the lentils and set them aside.

    A pot of par cooked lentils
  • Caramelize the chopped onions. In a large, deep sauté pan with a lid, heat about ¼ cup of extra virgin oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and a dash of kosher salt and cook until the onions are caramelized and deeply golden brown (but not burned). This will give the rice a comforting flavor and a beautiful golden brown hue.
  • Cook the lentils and rice. Carefully pour the remaining 2 cups of water in the large pan with the caramelized onions. Stir the rice and par-cooked lentils into the onion mixture and bring to a boil. Add a dash of kosher salt, black pepper, and about ½ to 1 teaspoon cumin. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice and lentils are both cooked through (about 20 minutes).

    A pot of cooked lentils and rice
  • Make the crispy onion rings. Add 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to a large pan and cook over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. To test the oil, add one thinly sliced onion ring and see if the oil vigorously bubbles, if it does, the oil is ready. Add the remaining onion slices and cook over medium-high heat, tossing occasionally, until the onions are crispy and deeply colored. If you need to, do this step in batches to make sure your onion rings are properly cooked (you don't want them soggy).

    Fried onions on a paper towel
  • Let the Mujadara rest then serve. When the rice and lentils are fully cooked, let them sit for about 10 minutes undisturbed, then garnish with parsley and serve with a bit of the crispy onion rings on top.

What to serve with mujadara?

To serve mujadara lentils and rice the traditional way, you'll dish it in bowls and add the crispy onion on top. For sides, we typically add some plain yogurt and a big fresh Mediterranean salad such as cucumber and tomato salad, tomato and feta salad, fattoush salad, balela salad, or shirazi salad.

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4.85 from 133 votes

Mujadara: Lentils and Rice with Crispy Onions

The Mediterranean Dish
A serving spoon filled with mujadara
Mujadara (mujaddara) is a signature Middle Eastern dish of lentils and rice garnished with crispy onions. Comforting in the best way, this vegan lentils and rice meal is great with a side of fattoush salad or shirazi salad and plain yogurt.
Prep – 15 minutes
Cook – 1 hour 45 minutes
Cuisine:
Lebanese, Middle Eastern
Serves – 6 (up to)
Course:
Entree

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup black lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • ¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil, more for later
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced (4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt more to taste
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice, soaked in water for 10-15 minutes and then drained
  • black pepper
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Parsley, for garnish

For the fried crispy onion garnish (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Place the lentils in a small saucepan with 2 cups of the water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat and simmer, cover until the lentils are par-boiled (10-12 minutes). Remove from the heat, drain the lentils and set them aside.
  • In a large saute pan with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and cook until the onions are dark golden brown, darker than typical caramelized onions (about 40 minutes), sprinkle the onions with a teaspoon of salt as they cook.
  • Carefully pour the remaining 2 cups of water, bring the water to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir the rice and par-cooked lentils into the onion mixture. Add a good dash of kosher salt, black pepper, and the cumin.
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice and lentils are both cooked through (about 15 to 20 minutes).
  • If you are adding the the fried onions, work on them while the rice and lentils are cooking. In a large skillet, heat about 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. When a small piece of onion bubbles vigorously, the oil is ready. Fry the onions in batches until they are crispy and deeply golden brown. Transfer the crispy onion rings to a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of excess oil.
  • Let the rice and lentils rest covered for about 10 minutes undisturbed, then garnish with parsley and transfer to serving bowls. Top each bowl with the crispy onion rings.

Video

Notes

  • Black lentils are the best option for mujadara, but brown lentils will work as well
  • Rinse the rice well and soak it in water for 15 minutes or until you are able to break a rice grain easily. This will help it cook quickly and evenly
  • If you choose to add the crispy onion garnish (highly recommended), to save time, you can start this while the rice and lentils cook (as I do in the video). 
  • Visit our Shop to browse our lentils, olive oil, spices and more! 

Nutrition

Calories: 377.9kcalCarbohydrates: 46.5gProtein: 10.8gFat: 16.6gSaturated Fat: 2.3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.8gMonounsaturated Fat: 11.8gSodium: 401.8mgPotassium: 119mgFiber: 8gSugar: 2.4gVitamin A: 4.9IUVitamin C: 5.5mgCalcium: 48mgIron: 3.1mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Silly how delicious such a simple dish can be!
    The very best thing about Suzy's recipes are the clear instructions. A few months as a subscriber, and not one recipe has been incorrectly written.
    This lentil dish will be added to the rotation.

  2. 5 stars
    I loved this recipe. If you like fried onions you will love this. The crispy onion topping is a must. The only change I made was using a butter/olive oil combination to fry the final onion used for topping. Delicious! Suzy I would love for you to post more recipes using black beluga lentils. I will definitely be making this recipe again. Thank you!!

  3. 5 stars
    This looks amazing! Never had black lentils before; just put them in my online shopping cart to try this. I love it when you send out interesting recipes like this. Thanks!

  4. 4 stars
    Love it. My Lebanese friend was shocked tho, because i used onions and she says she never puts onion in this dish. That was confusing. Anyway ...
    Delicious ❤️

  5. Can this be made with another kind of lentil? I can’t seem to find black lentils but this dish sounds so interesting.

    1. Sure! You could give a different type a try. I would avoid red lentils, though... they will fall apart and you will have more of a sticky rice situation than Mujadara. You may be able to use French green lentils. Enjoy!

    1. Hi, Diana! Yes... you can freeze after cooking. When ready to eat, thaw overnight in the fridge, heat over medium-low and add very little water into the pot. Toss occasionally as it heats.

  6. 5 stars
    We loved the mujadara! I think the crispy onions added quite a bit of flavor. I garnished the dish with pomegranate arils for color and flavor and used a bit of sumac with the Greek yogurt. Thanks for a great recipe.

  7. I’ve made this twice and it taste really good! I have a question about part of the recipe, though. Near the end, when it says to add two cups of water to the cooked onions, followed by the par cooked lentils and the pre-soaked rice... it doesn’t seem like two cups is enough? It doesn’t cover the mixture at all, and by the time the water is absorbed the rice isn’t cooked yet. Both times I’ve added around 4 cups of liquid, and the rice is still a little el dente. Any suggestions? I don’t want to water down the flavour if I can help it. Thanks!

    1. Hi, Robyn! I've never had an issue with the water/rice ratio here myself, but a lot of things vary with the kind of rice used or maybe how strong the cooking heat. Next time, you may want to just go ahead and add a bit more water to see if that works better for you.

  8. 5 stars
    I second so many people on this recipe. I literally didn’t expect it to be THIS good. I really took my time with the onions and it literally made the dish. So so so good. Thank you!! One question, my finished product doesn’t have that beautiful brisk color yours has in the photo. Did I do something incorrectly?

    1. That's hard to say about the color. I totally wouldn't worry about it, though... as long as the flavor was on point :).

  9. I grew up eating this dish especially during Lent. Trying to eat more fiber so prefer using brown rice. Have you tried recipe with brown rice? How long did you cook?

    1. Hi, Mary! I have not tried this particular recipe with brown rice, so I don't have any specific recommendations for cooking time. I just know that brown rice will take more liquid and longer time to cook as a general rule. I hope that helps!

  10. Hi again,
    I was wondering if this can be made with brown rice. If yes, would you recommend adding cooking time for rice and lentils - maybe 40 minutes total? Also, maybe not par-boil lentils and not soak rice?

    thanks again,
    Sylvia

  11. I’m making this tonight and going to add sautéed carrots, use chicken broth instead of water, and thinking of adding a little turmeric or saffron. What do you think? Does that alter the taste too much or do you think it still works?

    1. Hi Jenny, thanks for your question. I'm sorry I'm just now seeing the question, I'm not always able to answer immediately. I have not used chicken broth with mujadara, but it could work...a slight difference in flavor, but it should still be delicious.

  12. 5 stars
    I just love the middle eastern and Lebanese food. I was married to a Palistine for 12 years an missed having the different foods. Thanks for posting these. Suzanne M