Mujadara – Lentils, Rice & Onions – from Biblical Times

Mujadara, Mujaddara, Mujadarah or Megadarra are all different spellings of the same dish.  It is the Arab equivalent to Beans and Rice.  Although it is now served in fine Middle Eastern restaurants, it was once considered a poor man’s meal as it did not contain meat.  Meat was only added for special celebrations.   Written recipes for mujadara date back to 1226.  It can be made with green or brown lentils.


  • 2 Each – Large Onions, white or yellow, one chopped, the other sliced thinly on a mandolin
  • 2 Tablespoons – Vegetable Oil
  • 1.5 Cups – Green or Brown Lentils
  • 1 Teaspoon – Ground Cumin
  • 2 Teaspoons – Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon – Black Pepper
  • 1.25 Cups – White Rice
  • 2.5 Cups – Water
  • + Vegetable Oil for frying onions.


  1. Wash lentils and look closely for small stones that have passed the mechanical inspectors.
  2. Boil the lentils slowly in a saucepan of water for 15 minutes to pre-soften them.
  3. As lentils begin to boil, saute the chopped onion in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Use a skillet that has a lid for use later. 
  4. When they become clear add the cumin, salt, pepper, rice and water.
  5. Drain the lintels in a colander.  Add them to the onions and seasoning in the skillet.
  6. Return entire mixture to a boil, cover, simmer and cook for an additional 22 minutes, or until your rice cooks properly.  It will be necessary to stir occasionally to prevent the lentils from burning. 
  7. While the rice is cooking, fry the remaining thinly sliced onion in 1/4″ of vegetable oil.
  8. Serve the fried onions on top of the lentil, rice and onion mixture.  You may also top with yogurt (laban) mint or parsley if desired.
  9. Centuries ago this was a single course meal for the poor.  Serve it as a side dish to your family with beef, lamb or pork.

As a side dish, this recipe will feeds 8 adults and a bunch of kids that will ask, “Papa, what is this?”

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