Mujadara (Lentils and Rice with Crispy Onions), Authentic Middle Eastern Dish

Mujadara, also known as Mujaddara, is a classic Middle Eastern dish that combines lentils, rice, and loads of onions. The name itself means “pockmarked” in Arabic, but don’t let that discourage you from trying this flavorful and comforting meal. It’s typically seasoned with just a dash of kosher salt, pepper, and cumin, and sometimes uses bulgur wheat instead of white rice for a delicious variation.

Despite being considered a “poor man’s” meal throughout the Middle East, mujadara packs a protein and fiber punch thanks to the black lentils. In fact, it’s often served during the Great Holy Fast in Egypt when fasting requires a mainly vegan diet for over 50 days!

But what makes an authentic mujadara recipe stand out is the onions. Chopped onions are caramelized and cooked with rice and lentils, creating a rich golden hue and imparting tons of flavor. And to finish it off, thinly sliced crispy onion rings are added on top for even more texture and taste.

This bold and comforting dish is typically served with a side of plain yogurt and a fresh Mediterranean salad such as cucumber and tomato salad, fattoush salad, or Shirazi salad. Whenever I’m looking for something hearty and meatless, mujadara is always my go-to.


Prep Time: 15 minutesCook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Cuisine: Lebanese, Middle EasternServings: 6


  • 1 cup black lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 4 cups water, divided
  • ¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil, more for later
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced (4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt more to taste
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice, soaked in water for 10-15 minutes and then drained
  • black pepper
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Parsley, for garnish

For The Fried Crispy Onion Garnish (Optional)

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion cut into very thin rings


  1. Place the lentils in a small saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat and simmer, cover until the lentils are parboiled (10-12 minutes). Remove from the heat, drain the lentils, and set them aside.
  2. In a large saute pan with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and cook until the onions are dark golden brown, darker than typical caramelized onions (about 40 minutes), sprinkle the onions with a teaspoon of salt as they cook.
  3. Carefully pour the remaining 2 cups of water, bring the water to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir the rice and par-cooked lentils into the onion mixture. Add a good dash of kosher salt, black pepper, and cumin.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice and lentils are both cooked through (about 15 to 20 minutes).
  5. If you are adding the fried onions, work on them while the rice and lentils are cooking. In a large skillet, heat about 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. When a small piece of onion bubbles vigorously, the oil is ready. Fry the onions in batches until they are crispy and deeply golden brown. Transfer the crispy onion rings to a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of excess oil.
  6. Let the rice and lentils rest covered for about 10 minutes undisturbed, then garnish with parsley and transfer to serving bowls. Top each bowl with the crispy onion rings.


  • Black lentils are the best option for mujadara, but brown lentils will work as well
  • Rinse the rice well and soak it in water for 15 minutes or until you are able to break a rice grain easily. This will help it cook quickly and evenly
  • If you choose to add the crispy onion garnish (highly recommended), to save time, you can start this while the rice and lentils cook.


Calories: 207.4kcal | Carbohydrates: 28.2g | Protein: 2.6g | Fat: 9.3g | Saturated Fat: 1.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6.7g | Sodium: 398.9mg | Potassium: 92.1mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1.6g | Vitamin A: 2.9IU | Vitamin C: 2.7mg | Calcium: 23.7mg | Iron: 0.5mg

Share This

You May Also Like

About the Author: Rachel Michaels

A food photographer and travel blogger from New York City. Rachel's interest in cooking and travel began during her study abroad program in Italy, where she fell in love with Italian cuisine. She now captures the beauty of food and travels through her photography and blog posts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *