Mujadara is a very popular dish throughout the Middle East and Israel is no exception. Each country has a slightly different variation, but they all represent the same idea. Originally a cheap food to make, every authentic mujadara recipe is based on lentils, which are paired with either rice, wheat, bulgur, or even freekeh. I myself have only ever had the rice-based version in Israel and in my eyes, I think it’s the perfect combination.

Mujadara Recipe (Lentils and Rice With Caramelized Onions) Article

In addition to having different grains with the lentils, each country usually eats its mujadara with different things and often has different rituals of when they eat it. In Israel, mujadara is usually served as a side dish (although don’t let this fool you into thinking the portions are small), often with meat, meatballs, or chicken. In Jerusalem, it’s traditionally eaten with yogurt or cheese, and you can still find some places that’ll serve the dish with a nice dollop on top.

I got this particular recipe for mujadara from my boyfriend’s mom. In true Israeli fashion, it was one of the dishes she prepared the first time I went around to their house for dinner. I’d tried other recipes before, but this one was so much better! The lentils weren’t mushy, they had a vibrant color, and the onions were just perfectly caramelized and crispy.

For me, mujadara deserves to be in the spotlight on its own. Thanks to the lentils, it’s packed with nutrients and vitamins, and the caramelized onions add another layer to both the flavor and texture. This is such a simple and easy mujadara recipe, requiring minimal ingredients. Yet is just so tasty, especially when made with love. It’s a great dish for vegetarians and vegans as well. You can serve it as the centerpiece with some freshly chopped vegetables or maybe with a side of Israeli salad.


  • You can swap the brown lentils for green lentils or black lentils. But it’s super important not to use red lentils. They don’t hold their shape as well and are more than likely to go mushy.
  • Remember, the mujadara rice can be any type of rice you prefer, including short-grain white rice or even brown rice. Just make sure you adjust the cooking times appropriately. As mentioned, you can also pair the dish with coarse bulgur wheat or freekeh instead.
  • As for the onions, the more the merrier and you can use yellow, white, or brown onions. They’re super important to the flavor of the dish, so don’t skimp on the quantity, and feel free to add more. 
  • For something different, swap the turmeric for Lebanese seven-spice seasoning (baharat). You can also add two bay leaves when you add the other seasonings. Just remember to remove them before serving.


What is mujadara in English?

Mujadara is the Arabic term and translates to “pockmarked” in English. This is because the lentils among the rice look like pockmarks.

How do you pronounce mujadara in Lebanese?

Mujadara pronunciation is actually super easy because it’s phonetic. So it’s just moo-jah-dah-rah. 

What nationality is mujadara?

While it’s a popular dish in Levant countries like Israel and Lebanon, this Middle Eastern lentils dish actually originates from Mesopotamia a.k.a modern-day Iraq.

What are the other names of mujadara?

Mujadara can also be spelled multiple different ways, like mujaddara, megadara, mejedera, and mejadra. But however you spell it, this is the term used in Middle Eastern countries like Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel. It’s also known as mudardara in Syria and kushari in Egypt.

Is this mujadara recipe vegan?

Yes, this mujadara lentils dish is vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

Can I eat rice and lentils together?

This Lebanese lentils and rice recipe shows how good of a combination lentils and rice is.

Can you make this mujadara recipe in the Instant Pot?

Yes, here are some helpful instructions to make Instant Pot mujadara.

How do you serve mujadara?

There are so many ways to serve mujadara. For example, you can enjoy it as a main dish as is or as a side dish. Here are some suggestions for what to serve it with if you go down the side dish route:

  • Serve it with a meat-based main meal, such as kefta (spiced meatballs), Lebanese hushwee (spiced meat), or grilled chicken.
  • Enjoy it with plain yogurt and cheese as they traditionally do in Jerusalem.
  • Serve it with pita bread and a vegetable-based side dish, like grilled vegetables, fattoush salad, or tabbouleh.
  • Add a garnish, like toasted pine nuts, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a dollop of plain yogurt, sliced green onions, or chopped fresh parsley. You can substitute the yogurt for a homemade yogurt sauce too, like cacik, tahini, or tzatziki.

How do you store leftover mujadara?

You can store leftover lentils and rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. I recommend reheating leftovers either in the microwave or on the stovetop until heated through.

Another option is to freeze leftovers for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating them as above.

Mujadara Recipe (Lentils and Rice With Caramelized Onions)

Mujadara (Lentils and Rice With Caramelized Onions)

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Soaking Time 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 40 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Israeli
Servings 5 People
Calories 448 kcal


  • cups Brown lentils, soaked overnight in water to cover them
  • 2 1/2 tbsps Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 1/2 large Yellow onions, diced or thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp Ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric
  • 2 cups Vegetable broth


  • Drain the soaked lentils and pick out any debris.
  • Put the lentils in a medium pot and cover them with water that reaches at least an inch above the lentils. Boil the lentils for 15 minutes, until the lentils are three-quarters ready — they should be getting softer, but still al dente — drain them, and set aside.
  • While the lentils are boiling in another pot, heat the olive oil in a wide pan over high heat and fry the onions for about 10 minutes, until they are golden brown. You want to stir occasionally, so as not to burn them, but let them settle a bit so that they can brown nicely. Remove about one-third of the onions and set them aside.
  • Add the rice, salt, cumin, and turmeric to the remaining onions and mix them together. Fry the mixture for 1 to 2 minutes, until you can smell the spices, constantly stirring to prevent sticking.
  • Add the par-cooked lentils and vegetable broth. Boil the mixture for 10 to 20 minutes, until the cooked rice is tender.
  • When it’s ready, give everything a nice stir and place the reserved crispy onion on top.


Calories: 448kcalCarbohydrates: 75gProtein: 19gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 851mgPotassium: 752mgFiber: 20gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 227IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 69mgIron: 5mg
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About the Author: Gila Scherer
Gila was born in South Africa, grew up in the UK, and has lived in Israel since 2016. Food plays a central part in Jewish and Israeli culture, and as the youngest child, Gila spent a lot of time watching her family in the kitchen. She enjoyed learning about different food cultures and began cooking as a teenager. Scientist by day, Gila also enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, and preparing food for friends and family. She loves trying out new ideas and focuses on making healthy, plant-based foods delicious. When she’s not in the lab or the kitchen, Gila enjoys camping, travelling and being in touch with nature, and her dream is to one day grow her own fruits and vegetables.
Mediterranean Living

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