Mujadara

Lebanese spiced lentils and basmati rice are tossed with caramelized onions and fresh cilantro to make this flavor-packed mujadara. Delicious as a main dish or a show-stopping side!

Plate of Mujadara with Pot and Bunch of Cilantro in the Background

Mujadara is an amazingly delicious rice pilaf that’s known for being made with pantry staples. And that’s why I like to keep this recipe in my back pocket for when I’m not sure what to make. I have almost all of the ingredients on hand at all times!

Best of all, mujadara is hearty enough serve as a main dish, but also pairs up great as a side for other middle eastern dishes like falafel or loubieh.

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What You’ll Need

Pot of Mujadara with Bunch of Cilantro in the Background
  • Dried lentils. You can use brown or green for this recipe. I don’t recommend using red lentils.
  • Olive oil. Another high-heat oil will technically work, but olive oil will give this dish the best flavor.
  • Onions. You’ll need yellow onions, and LOTS of them — a pounds and a half!
  • Garlic.
  • Spices. We’re using cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.
  • Basmati rice. I recommend sticking with the recipe for this ingredient. If you absolutely must sub another variety, you’ll need to adjust the amount of liquid and cook time — refer to your rice’s package instructions.
  • Salt & pepper.
  • Lemon juice.
  • Fresh cilantro. Cilantro really makes the dish, unless you’re a person who hates cilantro, in which case I’d recommend subbing parsley.

How to Make Mujadara

The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll past it if you’d like to skip right to the recipe!

Caramelize the Onions

Collage Showing 4 Stages of Onions Caramelizing in a Pot
  • Add sliced onions and olive oil to a pot and place it over medium low heat. Give it a stir to evenly coat the onions with oil.
  • Slowly cook the onions, giving them a stir every so often. Be patient and keep the heat low! Caramelizing onions takes a while, but the good news is that it’s a mostly hands-off process. In the meantime, you can cook your lentils while the onions caramelize.
  • The onions are done caramelizing when they’re amber colored and super soft.
  • Remove about half of the onions from the pot before proceeding with the recipe — these will be used to top your dish.

Make the Rice Pilaf

Collage Showing 4 Stages of Cooking Mujadara
  • Turn up the heat to medium, then add minced garlic and spices to the pot. Cook everything for about a minute, until it becomes very fragrant.
  • Stir in the broth and rice.
  • Bring the liquid to a boil.
  • Lower the heat, cover the pot, and let everything simmer for about 20 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.

Assemble the Dish

Cooked Rice, Lentils and Cilantro in a Pot with Wooden Spoon
  • Let the pot sit for 5 minutes before uncovering it.
  • Stir in lemon juice, salt, pepper, and fresh cilantro.
Close up of Mujadara in a Pot with Wooden Spoon

Serve your mujadara with the caramelized onions that you reserved earlier.

Wooden Surface Set with a Plate of Mujadara with Fork

Mujadara Tips & FAQ

  • Is this dish gluten-free? It is!
  • Shelf-life & storage: Store any leftover mujadara in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Most of the cook time is devoted to caramelizing your onions. If you want to cut down on that, cook them ahead of time (make a big batch so you can use them for multiple dishes!). Refrigerate them for 3-4 days, or freeze them.
  • Can you make mujadara with red lentils? I don’t recommend it. Red lentils cook up super soft — you might end up with mujadara mush!
  • Can you use a different variety of rice? Yes, but the flavor and texture of basmati is perfect in this dish. I highly recommend using it if you can. You might also need to adjust the amount of vegetable broth and cook time if you switch things up — refer to the cooking instructions for your rice.
  • What if I hate cilantro? Try subbing parsley!

More Middle Eastern Recipes

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Wooden Surface Set with a Plate of Mujadara with Fork

Print

Mujadara

Lebanese spiced lentils and basmati rice are tossed with caramelized onions and fresh cilantro to make this flavor-packed mujadara. Delicious as a main dish or a show-stopping side!
Course Entree
Cuisine American, Lebanese
Keyword rice pilaf recipe, vegan rice dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 4 (as a main)
Calories 492kcal
Author Alissa

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried brown or green lentils
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ pounds yellow onion (about 3 medium onions), thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 1 ¾ cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

Instructions

  • Place the oil and onions into a medium saucepan. Toss a few times to coat the onions and place the pot over medium low heat. 
  • Allow the onions to cook for 45 to 60 minutes, until they’re caramelized and slightly browned. 
  • While the onions cook, place the lentils in medium saucepan. Cover them with water and place the pot over high heat. 
  • Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat and allow it to simmer for until the lentils are tender (about 20 minutes for brown lentils, 40 for green).
  • Remove the pot from heat and drain the lentils into a colander. Set them aside.
  • When the onions have finished caramelizing, remove half of them from the pot and transfer them to a plate. 
  • Raise the heat beneath the onions to medium, add the garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper, and cook 1 minute more, until very fragrant.
  • Stir in the broth and rice.
  • Bring the liquid to a boil, lower the heat and cover. Allow the mixture to simmer until the rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed, 15-20 minutes. 
  • Remove the pot from heat and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.
  • Stir the lentils, lemon juice and cilantro into the pot with the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can also add extra lemon juice if you’d like.
  • Divide the mujadara onto plates and top with the reserved caramelized onions.

Nutrition

Calories: 492kcal | Carbohydrates: 83.6g | Protein: 20.1g | Fat: 8.9g | Saturated Fat: 1.4g | Sodium: 640mg | Potassium: 895mg | Fiber: 19.3g | Sugar: 8.7g | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 5.4mg

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