Mujaddara with Spiced Yogurt

By • December 30, 2010 • 273 Comments

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Author Notes: During my time living in Israel, my favorite place for upscale-ish dining was an unassuming neighborhood joint that put modern spins on traditional dishes. Their take on mujaddara was actually pretty traditional -- jasmine rice, lentils, loads of caramelized onions -- but they topped it all with a cumin-spiked spiced yogurt that was out of this world. I've tried to replicate it here. I've also substituted puy lentils for the traditional green lentils, as they hold their shape better. One last note: I've found that mujaddara improves with age, as the flavors blend together. - RivkaRivka

Food52 Review: Rumor has it that Mujaddara is not only good, but good for you too (apparently, the combination of lentils, onions and yogurt wields near magical powers -- especially for women). Whatever its health properties, we love the varying textures and flavors: crisp, sweet onions tangle with fluffy jasmine rice and tiny, plump French lentils that burst happily in your mouth; the minted spiced yogurt adds zip and simultaneously ties everything together. Rivka's nuanced dish is a meal all its own, and its fragrance lingers long after you've taken the last bite. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 4

For the Mujaddara

  • 3/4 cup Puy lentils (aka French lentils, the tiny dark brown ones)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cups onions (about 3 medium onions), halved and thinly sliced

For the yogurt

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (freshly ground, if possible)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander (freshly ground)
  • 1/2 teaspoon spicy paprika or aleppo pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • Juice and zest of half a lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Put lentils, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 4 cups water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer lentils until soft but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain lentils and set aside. Rinse pot.
  3. Add rice, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 cups water to the pot, set over medium heat, and bring to a boil. When water begins to boil, cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook for 17 minutes (the tried-and-true Amanda Hesser method!) until perfectly cooked. Remove from oven, uncover, and fluff with a fork. Set aside.
  4. While rice cooks, set a wide, deep saute pan over medium-low heat and add butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter has mostly melted, add onions and toss to incorporate with butter and oil.
  5. After 5 minutes, onions will have softened slightly and started to release their liquid. Raise heat to medium and cook 10 to 12 minutes more, until onions are very soft and browned. Add water by the tablespoon if pan gets too dry or if onions start to stick. When onions are well browned, add last tablespoon of olive oil and raise heat to high. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes, until bottom layer of onions has charred and crisped; try not to stir too much, or onions won't crisp up.
  6. Combine rice, lentils, and most of the onions in large serving bowl and let sit for at least 15 minutes, to marry the flavors together. (Truth be told, this dish improves with age.) Taste, and add more onions if desired. Meanwhile, make the yogurt: mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. (Yes, it's really that simple.)
  7. If mujaddara has cooled significantly, reheat in a low oven or even in the microwave for a couple minutes. To serve, plate a big scoop of mujaddara and top with a dollop of yogurt.
Jump to Comments (273)

Tags: serves a crowd, serves a crowd, travels well

Comments (273) Questions (6)

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23 days ago Patricia

Made a version of this yesterday where I skipped the yogurt (couldn't be bothered to go to the shop so worked with what I had at home) and incorporated the spices with the onions instead. Served with harissa chicken and raw onion (persian style) and died and went to food heaven. LOVE this rice dish!

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about 1 month ago Sam

Excellent recipe! Thank you.

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4 months ago sassygirl711

so yummy! i loved the browned vidalia onions
with the puy lentils and added vadouvan to the mix. can't wait for tomorrow's leftovers. :)

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4 months ago Sara Sfeir

Very nice recipe. But just for the record, as this is originated from my mother country, this is called Mudardara. Mujaddara stands for an oriental lentil puree and rice soup. Bon appetit!

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6 months ago Nicole

I really cheated on this one and used rice select royal blend (a combo of brown rice, pearl couscous, flax, and black lentils). I just had to mix in the onions and top with the yogurt. It was awesome!

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8 months ago helena

very nice! i changed up the spices for my dish: ground coriander, cumin, garlic powder, turmeric, and fresh ground pepper. I also added a bay leaf when sweating the onions along with the spices listed above. At the end i mixed in some greek yogurt with everything to make it a little creamy and chopped up a generous amount of parsley to sprinkle on top.

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9 months ago Paula Edder Gartner

Just made this with brown basmati. I used plain goat yogurt with dill and cucumber. I also added pecans. One of my very favorite veggie meals. Tomorrow morning it will serve as my grain with an over easy egg on top.

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10 months ago kasia S.

The first time I made this ( last monday I was blown away) so I'm making this again, right now actually for a yummy lunch.

I love leftovers, I serve them warm with a sunny side up fried egg on top, runny yolk is perfect with this!

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8 months ago Spicely_Organics

Ooohhh...going to try it with the egg on top! Thanks for the idea!

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8 months ago kasia S.

My pleasure :) I'm making this today, hard to stay away from this dish!

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10 months ago KelseyB

I made this as written (minus the cinnamon) and ate it over the next 4 days. I plated it with lettuce, bell peppers, and other fresh cut vegetables for color. It was delicious every single day. I would reccomend 1 1/2 or doubling the yogurt sauce.

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10 months ago zeldie

I've made this dish with Basmati and jasmine and Tonight I used brown rice as it was the only rice in my pantry. I have used sweet white onion , red onion, shallots and all are delicious. Delicious with any rice or onion. Brown rice is just chewier so dish is more filling. I add sweet chili pepper blend n37 from la boîte spices (excellent) and served a cool salad of chopped cucumbers ( without seeds) peeled and chopped red pepper chopped celery chopped radishes and basil cilantro parsley lemon balm from the garden. Dressed w olive oil and cider vinegar. Some roasted parsnips and other root vegetable makes this a perfect meal.

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10 months ago Barbara

Great suggestions Zeldie

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10 months ago kasia S.

Sounds delicious, I'm going to use wheatberries or farro ( always have both in cupboard) next time instead of rice for extra nutty chew.

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10 months ago Nancy

I would definitely have naan or pita bread with it. A salad is nice, too, or a green vegetable. Green beans, brussel sprouts.

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10 months ago Barbara

This was a wonderful dish. To make double would I in fact double all ingredients too? Also, what else would you serve with this dish -

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10 months ago Weiwen Ng

Kibbi (a meatloaf with bulgur wheat and spices) has been a good accompaniment, as has falafel. Chicken would probably work as well.

And yes, just double everything.

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11 months ago emcsull

do you think basmati rice would do ? I hate to have six kinds of white rice around, just have basmati and arborio, which I think would not work at all. Thanks.

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11 months ago Rivka

yep. basmati will work great.

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11 months ago Weiwen Ng

Basmati is what I would normally use for mujaddara, not jasmine. I do intend to try this one with jasmine rice, though.

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11 months ago hana

i think Basmati is its own floral thing..This dish is traditionally cooked with Egyptian (close to Calrose variety) or Italian (arborio and its related varieties) in the Middle East.

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11 months ago emcsull

hana, would you not use basmati then ?

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11 months ago hana

if you have arborio on hand, I would go with it. Basmati is too delicate, in my opinion and I would use it for other applications.

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11 months ago Rivka

I guess there are different opinions here, but I tend to think basmati will work better than arborio. You want a medium- or long-grain rice for this dish, as that's essential to the texture. Arborio is a short-grain rice and not quite right here.

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11 months ago andrea.muraskin

I made the mujaddara with red lentils, which was a mistake because they turned to mush. I also only used 2 onions (because they make me cry). Still, the dish was quite hardy and filling, if a little bland. The yogurt was a very interesting and pleasant blend of flavors. Next time I will probably add some garlic and cumin to the mujaddara.

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11 months ago Nancy

My husband orders this dish every time we go to Aladdin's in West Chester, Ohio. I'm so happy to have the recipe!

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11 months ago insecureepicure

This is one of the most comforting dishes. It is a favorite vegetarian meal

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12 months ago zeldie

This dish is any easy staple in my home. Tonight I threw in a shallot and some shredded red cabbage and some shredded napa for a change. Yum!!!I have all of Yotams cookbooks. They are wonderful. Cooking for 30 years plus helping my Mother since I was little has made me realize that one will find similar dishes/recipes across many cuisines. I enjoy seeing how each country changes the dish to accommodate spices, tastes, and preferences. Makes cooking and eating exciting.

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about 1 year ago Carolina

I made this three days ago. It was as good, if not better, than all the comments say. I'm still eating it. The yogurt and crispy onions make the dish.

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about 1 year ago kvass2

I suggest Lucied purchase a copy of Yotam Ottolenghi's wonderful cookbook "Jerusalem". He fully explains the middle eastern cooking.

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about 1 year ago Lucied

I love this dish, this is a good recipe but I'm confused how a dish that has always been an Arabic/Lebanese dish is now an Israeli dish?

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about 1 year ago Portia Hunt

It seems to be a regional dish ;)

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about 1 year ago Rivka

Indeed. See the thread of comments below where this was addressed; I first encountered it in Israel, but it of course has roots in Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, etc. and every country - nay, every region - has its own version.

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11 months ago Lorene s

I have been eating this dish my whole life- it's a Thursday dish in many households. It's delish!! Israelis don't eat it with yogurt tho which is a problem for me bc I am married to one and he eats it with chicken. My bkgnd is Lebanese and yogurt is definitely the only way to eat it. It's roots are Lebanese Syrian Egypt - ur right rivka everyone nation eats it differently.