Mujaddara, a traditional Middle Eastern dish, is sometimes made with rice, or, in certain regional variations, with cracked wheat or bulgur.
Either way, the grain is combined with lentils and lots of onions browned in olive oil. I like making this simple dish with brown rice, since it can be cooked together with the lentils. It’s such an appetizing dish — even if, admittedly, it isn’t the prettiest.
Mujaddara is alternatively transliterated as mujaddarah, mjeddrah, mujadara and at least half a dozen other variants. The recipe dates back at least to the 13th century as a mainstay in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Like other lentil specialties, Mujaddara is enjoyed by many communities in the region, where these protein-packed legumes are a staple ingredient. It’s a favorite Lenten dish among Christian Arabs, as well as of Jews of Middle Eastern descent. The first time I had it, in fact, was at a home in Israel.
The combination of rice and lentils is so beloved that variations have spread to other parts of the Asian continent. In Iran, there’s the beautifully spiced Adas Polow, and in Indian cuisine, there’s a variant called khichdi.
Inexpensive, filling, and tasty, Mujaddara has earned its place as a beloved dish, inspiring the Arab saying: ”A hungry man would be willing to sell his soul for a dish of mujaddara.” No need to sell our souls — just gather up these everyday ingredients and get cooking!
My favorite accompaniments with this dish are a simple salad of finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers dressed in olive oil and lemon juice (aka Israeli salad) and a steamed or sautéed green vegetable like green beans.
- 1 cup raw long- or medium-grain brown rice, rinsed
- 1 cup raw brown lentils, rinsed
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium onions, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced, optional
- 1 teaspoons ground cumin, or more, to taste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Combine the rice, lentils, and bouillon cube with 5 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat, cover, and cook for 35 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. If either the rice or lentils aren’t done, add 1/2 cup additional broth or water, and cook until absorbed. Repeat as needed.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide skillet or stir-fry pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until lightly browned, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes.
- Check the rice and lentil mixture in the saucepan. If not quite done, add 1/2 cup additional water at a time, and allow to absorb, until done to your liking.
- Add the rice and lentil mixture to the pan with the browned onion and stir to combine. Add the remaining ingredients, cook over medium heat for a few minutes, then serve.
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 123Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 220mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 4gSugar: 3gProtein: 5g
If you like this Middle Eastern Mujaddarah recipe, you might also enjoy …
Photos: Nata Vkusidey