Mujaddara and Memories

Mujaddara (a rice and lentil dish) has always been a staple in my family. It’s easy to make, cheap to assemble and a well-built meal. My mom has even mastered it in the rice cooker but, you’ll have to ask her for the recipe on that!

I love making this for friends and dinner parties. First off, the base of the recipe is vegan AND gluten-free, so everyone can easily partake. It always gets requested and sometimes lovingly called “mmmmmm-jedra”.

My roommate and I traveled recently and stayed with one of my good friends from college. As a gratitude for her hospitality, I offered to make dinner. Guess what I made? You’re right! The pictures below are from that night.

Mujaddara is usually served with a fresh salad and topped with caramelized onions and labne (soft, tart cheese). I couldn’t find that, so I easily subbed it with plain Greek yogurt. This recipe serves 6-8 people and makes lots of happy, full tum tums. A step-by-step guide is below, followed by the actual recipe with measurements.

Mujaddara (Palestinian-Style Rice with Lentils)

Gather all of your veggies for the salad and rice, lentils and onions!

You need to par-boil your lentils for a little so that they cook evenly with the rice later.

As they’re boiling, slice your onions to prep them for caramelizing.

Once the lentils are halfway cooked, strain and rinse them (once cool enough!) and add in the dry rice and rinse everything together. A mesh strainer is best.

Put the wet rice and lentils in a large pot, then cover in water and add in all of the spices. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn on low.

After that starts up, add a good amount of olive oil to a saute pan. Cook onions on a medium high heat, occasionally stirring as they start to caramelize.

While that’s all cooking, you can prep the salad!

Once everything is chopped, cover in lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and toss! Using your hands is fun! Just make sure they’re clean :).

I like the onions to come out like this. You can make them more brown or less….your choice! The rice is done when the water is evaporated.

Either serve on a platter, or simply dump the onions on top of the rice and voila!

For the rice:

  • 1.5 cups white basmati rice
  • 1.5 cups brown or green lentils
  • 5-6 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted garlic powder (optional)

For the onions:

  • 2 large sweet onions
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil

For the salad:

  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley or mint….or both!
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 seedless, english cucumber, chopped in quarters
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium lemon, squeezed
  • salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan, put lentils with enough water to cover it and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and cook for about another 7-10 minutes. Lentils should be halfway cooked.

Strain in a fine strainer and run cold water over them. Add in dry rice to the strainer and continue to run under cold water.

Bring wet rice and lentils to a large pot. Add water. You want the grains full submerged with about an inch of water above it. Add in spices. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for about 25-30 minutes until the water is evaporated and the rice is done.

After the rice is all assembled and starting to boil, start to saute the onions. In a large saute pan, add in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan and turn the heat to medium high. Once the oil is hot, add in the sliced onions and spread out evenly on the pan. Periodically stir the onions as they slowly caramelize. This will take pretty much as long as the rice takes to cook. Once the rice and onions are done, pour the onions on top of the rice in the pot.

As all is cooking, you can also assemble the salad! Get a large salad bowl and chop the romaine, parsley, tomato and cucumber. Add them all to the bowl. Then roll a lemon and slice in half. squeeze each lemon half over the salad, the drizzle about 2-3 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to your liking. Take your hands (or salad tongs- BORING) and mix it all up!

When you serve the rice, make sure you get some yummy onions on top! Garnish with a dollop of labne or Greek yogurt and serve the salad on the same plate so all the flavors can meld together. Enjoy!





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