Mujadara, Lebanese lentils with caramelized onions

January  8, 2013
5 Ratings
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

This earthy Lebanese dish has a rock-star following, and with good reason. The healthy quotient is as high as it could be, rivaled only by mujadara's super-delicious flavors. Cracked wheat can be used in place of the rice, and happens to be my favorite way to eat mujadara. There is some question as to how far the onions should be taken in the caramelization process. They must be dark, very dark golden brown. Some of the onions will verge on burnt. But entirely burnt onions will produce a bitter mujadara and the onions won’t ‘melt’ into the lentils and rice as they should when they are soft. Mujadara is good eaten with labne, flatbread, a green salad, and if you want to get fancy, some crispy fried onions strings on top. —Maureen Abood

What You'll Need
  • For the Lentils
  • 1 cup whole brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil
  • 4 cups diced yellow onion (1/2-inch)
  • 1 cup long grain white rice OR bulghur wheat (#3 coarse grade)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • High-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • For Fried Onion Strings
  • 1 large onion, cut into very thin rounds
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Salt to taste
  1. For the Lentils
  2. Place lentils in a small saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are par-cooked, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat. Be careful not to overcook here; the idea is to par-cook the lentils.
  3. In a large, heavy sauté or sauce pan (with a lid), heat the canola or grapeseed oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until deep golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt as the onions cook.
  4. Take the onions off the heat and add 2 cups of water. Place back on the heat and boil, over high heat, for five minutes. The liquid will take on the deep golden color of the onions and the onions will continue to soften.
  5. Add the rice and par-cooked lentils to the onion mixture. Cover and bring to a boil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice and lentils are cooked through. The texture of the rice and lentils is somewhat al dente. Take care not to overcook or the mixture will become mushy. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot, warm, or room temperature drizzled with olive oil.
  1. For Fried Onion Strings
  2. For fried onion garnish, heat canola oil over high heat in a small saucepan (the small saucepan reduces the amount of oil needed for depth). When a small piece of onion dropped into the oil floats to the top and bubbles vigorously, the oil is ready. Fry the onion rings in batches until golden brown, reducing heat as needed to prevent burning. Remove and drain on paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Place the onions on top of the mujadara on a serving platter or individual plates.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Zach Brooks
    Zach Brooks
  • SophieL
  • luvcookbooks
  • Maureen Abood
    Maureen Abood

12 Reviews

andrea H. March 25, 2023
I've made this recipe a few times and it's been great! My resident vegetarian and my meat eaters both enjoy it. I've even used canned lentils a couple of times. I'm not sure that that saves any time, but I wanted to use them up.
hionni June 24, 2020
Thank you for a wonderful recipe! I'd eaten this many times in restaurants, but had never tried making myself. I was intimidated, but your recipe was so clear, it turned out beautifully!
andrea H. March 1, 2020
I, and my family, love this recipe. I must confess that sometimes, I do the onion and rice cooking steps, and then add canned lentils, and even skip the garnish onions. It's so good.
Hillary July 25, 2019
Excellent recipe and a taste of childhood. Thank you! I thought the timings were spot on and thus avoided a mushy outcome. Will make again (and again ... )
Maureen A. July 25, 2019
So happy to hear this! We make mujadara with this method every week, and it comes out great every time. To further prevent mushiness, try rinsing your uncooked rice or bulgur before adding it to the mix.
Zach B. October 30, 2018
I made this today and it's excellent. I was skeptical since it didn't have any spices added, but it had tons of flavor. I substituted veggie broth for the water, which may have added to the richness. I didn't have brown lentils, so I used green and I used brown rice in place of the cracked wheat/white rice. I had to use a little extra liquuid for the brown rice.
Zach B. October 30, 2018
I made
Christine E. April 20, 2018
Hi there. I was looking for a Syrian mujadara recipe when I found your beautiful blog. I look forward to trying the recipe soon. Anything with crispy onions must be good.

Have you heard of Preemptive Love Coalition? We are a non-profit giving people a chance to help victims of war in Syria. We provide emergency food, hygiene kits, and medical care. So many are weary of seeing heart-wrenching photos from Syria, but I want to tell the story of the beauty and culture of the country BEFORE all this destruction happened. I want to give people a chance to see how a Syrian family has things in common with their family.

I think one way to do this is through the connecting power of food. Would you be willing to help in this effort?

We support kitchens in three parts of Syria that cook for as many as 31,000 people a day. They use huge pots to make a one-dish meal and travel around the area distributing it. Families bring their own pots from home and line up to receive their portion. A simple version of mujadara is one of the dishes.

We want to write a series of articles about pre-war Syria that includes pictures, recipes, and stories. We also want to tell what refugees eat now. Then we will ask readers to make one of the recipes and imagine life in Syria.

Would it be okay if I share your blog with our people and link back to it? We’ll feature some Syrian food bloggers as part of this piece, and we’d love to include you in that.

We were also wondering if you’d like to join us in our effort to build bridges and foster empathy across the globe. We thought of several ways that you could join us, but we would be happy to hear your ideas as well. We thought perhaps you could repost or share our story when it runs (hopefully within the next 3-4 weeks)? Or write your own post about these issues? Or share another simple Syrian recipe that you think everyone should try? Again, we’re very open to collaborating on this with you...

Thank you for your time, and please let me know what you think.


Kate C. February 2, 2018
This worked out beautifully, thank you! I seasoned with about a teaspoon of cumin and a dash of cinnamon. Plus I added a large handful of raisins, since my wife and I discovered we like raisins on the mujadara. Try it. :-)
Maureen A. February 5, 2018
Kate, that is so clever, the raisins! Thanks for sharing and for the idea. I look forward to trying it!
SophieL September 25, 2017
There are lots of variations - I like this with a little garlic, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric and cayenne. Very tasty!
luvcookbooks November 17, 2016
This recipe is so delicious. I had tried another mujadara recipe, which was delicious but too rich (more oil). Even my lentil hating daughter loves it, I think because of the oil and browned onions. I will make this one again and again! In my Weeknight Meals collection. Thank you!