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Middle Eastern Mujadara Recipe: A Flavorful and Easy Dish

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Mujadara is a comforting Middle Eastern dish made of lentils and rice topped with crispy onions. This vegan meal is easy to prepare and perfect for any occasion.

You’ll love how the creamy lentils and flavorful rice come together, especially when paired with a fresh side like fattoush salad or plain yogurt. Get ready to discover why this recipe is a staple in many households!

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

Below are the exact ingredients you need for making Mujadara, along with possible substitutes to help you adapt the recipe to your needs.

  • Lentils: 1 cup

    • Substitute: Green or brown lentils can work if you can’t find black lentils.
  • Rice: 1 cup

    • Substitute: Basmati rice is traditional, but you can use jasmine or long-grain rice as well.
  • Onions: 2 large, thinly sliced

    • Substitute: Shallots can be used, though they are milder.
  • Olive Oil: 3 tablespoons

    • Substitute: Any vegetable oil or even ghee can be used in its place.
  • Salt: 1 teaspoon

    • Substitute: Sea salt or kosher salt works equally well.
  • Ground Cumin: 1 teaspoon

    • Substitute: If you don’t have cumin, you can use ground caraway seeds.
  • Ground Coriander: 1 teaspoon

    • Substitute: Ground fennel seeds can be used, though they have a different flavor.
  • Ground Red Chili (optional): ½ teaspoon

    • Substitute: Crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper can be used for some spice.

For a variation, you can add vegetables to the dish. Asparagus, green beans, or peas can bring a fresh twist. Each adds its own unique flavor and texture, making the dish even more versatile and rich.

Using these ingredients and simple substitutes, you can enjoy a delicious, healthy Mujadara dish perfect for any meal.


  1. Prepare Lentils & Rice

    • Rinse 1 cup of black lentils.
    • In a saucepan, combine lentils with 2 cups of water and a dash of salt.
    • Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
    • Drain and set aside.
  2. Caramelize Onions

    • Slice 2 large onions thinly.
    • Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a large pan on medium heat.
    • Add onions and a pinch of salt. Cook for 10 minutes.
    • Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 45-60 minutes until dark brown.
  3. Cook Rice

    • In a large pot, combine 1 cup of rice, 1 ½ tsp salt, 1 tsp cumin, and 20 twists of black pepper.
    • Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
    • Stir in the rice. Reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook for 20 minutes.
    • Remove lid and fluff gently with a fork. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.
  4. Combine and Serve

    • Mix the par-cooked lentils with the cooked rice gently.
    • Top with the caramelized onions.
    • Serve warm, with a sprinkle of extra salt if needed.

Remember to enjoy your cooking process and the delicious result!

Tips, Tricks & Storing

Caramelize Onions Perfectly
Use a non-stick or cast-iron skillet. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring often. This prevents burning and helps the onions become rich and golden.

Cook Lentils Just Right
Don’t overcook the lentils. They should be tender but not mushy. If they get too soft, they can turn the dish into a mushy mess.

Perfect Rice Texture
Rinse your rice under cold water before cooking. This removes excess starch and helps keep the grains separated and fluffy.

Add Flavors
Use fresh spices for the best flavor. Cumin and black pepper enhance the taste of Mujadara. Toasting the cumin seeds slightly before adding them provides an extra layer of flavor.

Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Mujadara often tastes even better the next day as the flavors meld together.

To reheat, use a stovetop with a splash of water or olive oil to keep it moist. Microwaving works too, but be sure to stir halfway through to avoid cold spots.

You can also freeze Mujadara for up to 3 months. Store in portion-sized containers for easy meals. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

Serving Suggestions
Pair Mujadara with a side of yogurt, a fresh salad, or some pickled vegetables for a complete meal.

Extra Crunch
For an extra crunch, you can top the dish with fried onions before serving.

Adjust for Taste
Feel free to adjust salt and spices according to your liking. Taste as you cook and make it perfect for you.

Recipe Variations & Serving Suggestions

Mujadara is a versatile dish with many variations. Here are some ideas:

Adding Spices

You can experiment with spices:

  • Cinnamon and allspice bring warmth.
  • Coriander adds a citrusy note.
  • Paprika provides smokiness.

Vegetable Add-ins

Incorporate vegetables for added nutrition:

  • Mushrooms for an earthy flavor.
  • Carrots for sweetness.
  • Spinach for a fresh twist.

Protein Boost

For extra protein, consider:

Serving Suggestions

Mujadara can be served in various ways:

  • As a main dish with a side of yogurt or cucumber salad.
  • As a side dish with grilled meats or falafel.


Enhance the dish with:

  • A sprinkle of fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley.
  • A drizzle of olive oil or lemon juice.

Experiment with these ideas to make your mujadara unique and flavorful. Enjoy!

Benjamin Happy Muncher

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.