Mujaddara ~ Palestinian Lentils & Rice

October 19th, 2012

When my husband and I were starving university students, we ate this dish all the time—mostly because it was cheap and filling. Then at some point we stopped. We forgot all about lentils and rice for many years, as we graduated on to more “sophisticated” foods.

Recently, in an attempt to bring some vegetarian dinners to our table, I re-discovered mujaddara, so tasty, nutritious, and economical. When I presented the humble platter to my husband, he was surprised and thrilled—as though I was serving up a whole lamb or some rare delicacy.

He raved about the dish to the kids, how amazing and delicious it was—the fried onions over the cumin-flavored rice with a touch of yogurt. I suspect the taste unlocked some sentimental memories of his childhood in Palestine, where simple foods ruled the kitchen.

Lentils & rice is a classic Arab combination that goes back to medieval times. I’ve seen it prepared many ways—from a rice dish with just a bit of lentils to mostly lentils with a touch of rice. As for me, I like to make it half/half, a cup of each.

I also add a chopped up carrot. Though non-traditional, the carrot adds color and interest to an otherwise plain-looking dish.

Finally, do not skimp on the onion. More than a garnish, the onions flavor the dish in such a way that you’ll find yourself and a fellow diner fighting over the last remaining bits of onion. If you love onions, I suggest frying up three onions or even four. Trust me on this.

Mujaddara ~ Serves 4-6

1 cup brown lentils

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large carrot, chopped finely

1 cup rice

1 teaspoon cumin

1½ teaspoons salt or to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 medium onions (more if you love onions)

2 Tablespoons olive oil


  1. Start boiling some water for use later.
  2. Wash lentils and put in large cooking pot with 2 cups cold water. Add carrots and garlic. Bring to boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. While lentils cook, start soaking the rice. Place rice in heat-resistant bowl, cover with boiling water and stir. Soak rice for about 15 minutes.
  4. Drain rice well and mix with the cooked lentils and 1½ cups hot water. Add cumin, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 15 minutes or longer.
  5. While rice and lentils cook, halve the onions vertically and slice thinly. Fry onions in the olive oil until golden brown.
  6. Transfer the mujaddara to a platter and top with the fried onion. Serve with a Simple Arabic Salad and Yogurt Cucumber Salad or simply plain yogurt.

Note: If you prefer a more traditional mujaddara, omit the carrot and reduce the hot water from 1½ cups to 1 cup in Step 4.

Questions: How do you prepare Mujaddara? What are your memories of this dish?

  1. Linda Moren Abuelghanam
    October 19th, 2012 at 21:39 | #1

    YUMMY!!! I’ll have to share a recipe using rice and black beans!!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      October 19th, 2012 at 21:44 | #2

      Do share, Linda. I love black beans!! I’m so glad they are now readily available in Dubai. When I first moved here, a can of black beans was like a rare treasure.

  2. October 19th, 2012 at 22:38 | #3

    I am definitely making this! You had me at “fried onions” 🙂

    Also love the background information about your university days and your husband.

    Lovely post …

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      October 20th, 2012 at 06:33 | #4

      Thank you for reading, Zvezdana. I think you would like this dish. For you, I say double the onions!

  3. October 19th, 2012 at 23:06 | #5

    You mean you didn’t take advantage of all the wonderful fast food cuisine Pullman had to offer?! This recipe looks delicious. I will definitely try it soon. Thanks…

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      October 20th, 2012 at 06:32 | #6

      HI Carla, Um. I actually think fast food was considered a “treat” back than. Much has changed.

  4. October 19th, 2012 at 23:40 | #7

    A popular dish here in the Caribbean as well. We have this once every other week or so in my home

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      October 20th, 2012 at 06:30 | #8

      HI Wizzy, I would love to try the Caribbean version! Thanks for the comment.

  5. Andrea
    October 20th, 2012 at 01:58 | #9

    Your recipe is the only one I’ve had with carrots, but I’ve never made it any other way since you first made it for me 20 years ago. 🙂

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      October 20th, 2012 at 06:30 | #10

      Gosh, Andrea. Thanks for the memories. Twenty yeaars … that can’t be right. 🙂

  6. Shy
    October 20th, 2012 at 09:49 | #11

    Love lentils and rice…like the addition of carrots to this dish..simple and flavouful:))

  7. October 21st, 2012 at 01:04 | #12

    I often eat lentils with rice, only curried and cooked separately. For some unexplained reason I’ve always been a little scared to try cooking them together, although I have seen some incredibly tempting recipes (what if the lentils got too mushy, what if the rice didn’t cook through, and so on). Your instructions make it sounds soooo simple, I’m going to give it a try as soon as I find brown lentils. I remember eating some Indian curries with rice and regardless of how delicious they were together the most amazing (and always insufficient) ingredient was the fried onion:) I’ll have to make more, just in case. Thank you for sharing the recipe, Holly, I’ll let you know how it comes out. Fingers crossed;)

  8. October 21st, 2012 at 15:24 | #13

    Holly, thanks for reminding us of simple the recipe, and we make this at home too. My older son likes it with a bit of curry powder and the younger one likes it with red peppers and carrots in it. Thank you for sharing!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      December 21st, 2012 at 17:27 | #14

      Oh! Curry and red peppers … Sounds excellent. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  9. Denise Aboushoushah
    October 25th, 2012 at 17:23 | #15

    Love the way you have added in some carrots I must try this

  10. October 27th, 2012 at 20:42 | #16

    Holly, it took way too long to come over here but we are totally impressed with what we see! So many of your dishes are worth bookmarking for making. Will definitely be sharing!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      December 21st, 2012 at 17:25 | #17

      Hi Chef & Steward, Thank you for the comment. Sorry it too me so long to reply. Thanks for reading. I really appreciate your kind words. Holly

  11. Peitra
    November 10th, 2012 at 05:57 | #18

    This is one of my favorite dishes! I will try adding carrots sometime- great idea. And you are right, you can’t have too many onions. Sometimes when I’ve eaten it, we’ve had hard boiled eggs on the side for some extra protein.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      December 21st, 2012 at 17:14 | #19

      Peitra, hard-boiled eggs… I will have to try that. Thanks for reading & commenting. 🙂

  12. Cate
    November 20th, 2012 at 03:58 | #20

    Great recipe and very simple! Thanks!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      December 21st, 2012 at 17:11 | #21

      Cate, thanks for stopping by. Happy cooking! Holly

  13. Kimberlee
    November 22nd, 2012 at 21:00 | #22

    Thanks so much for this recipe! It was one of my favourite comfort foods as a kid but since Mom had the recipe in her head there was never a hard copy of it anywhere. She used a ton of onions too, and homemade yogurt. So delicious. Mom passed away a few months ago, I’m going to enjoy making this in her memory and bringing some of her joie de vivre into my kitchen.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      December 21st, 2012 at 17:10 | #23

      Hi Kimberlee,
      Oh I’m so glad that the recipe is of use to you. It’s such a simple dish, but it’s loaded with flavor & nutrition–and memories for some of us. 🙂 Thank you for your comment. All the best, Holly

  14. Stacey
    January 28th, 2013 at 06:00 | #24

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. We recently moved to a large city which has a great Lebanese restaurant. I had this dish there and loved it. Although I would like to eat at the restaurant weekly…it isn’t in my budget 🙂 This recipe was exactly like their dish. It’s a winner!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      February 6th, 2013 at 16:37 | #25

      Thanks Stacey, for reading & commenting.
      I hope the recipe worked out for you.

  15. March 11th, 2013 at 00:42 | #26

    I top it off with sour cream. My daughter and I love it, and I agree, lots and lots of carmalized onions! Yum

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 18th, 2013 at 21:25 | #27

      Hi Cynthia, Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m sure that sour cream would taste terrific on this dish! However, it’s traditionally served with yogurt, which is healthier. Try full-fat plain Greek yogurt and see what you think. 😉

  16. June 3rd, 2013 at 13:28 | #28

    Pakistani rice taste too good. I am in love with its grains. Lovely dish. ever tried Rymah rice?

  17. Deena
    December 24th, 2013 at 00:27 | #29

    I have been wanting a recipe for this for so long. I finally googled it and found this. I can’t wait to make this for my husband. I used to be able to get this from a Palestinian-owned deli every Wednesday, but the couple retired and I never got her recipe. Thanks.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      January 4th, 2014 at 19:10 | #30

      Hi Deena! So glad you found the recipe. 🙂 I hope it works out for you. thanks for the comment. Holly

  18. Deena
    January 16th, 2014 at 04:33 | #31

    Made it tonight and it did NOT disappoint. Thanks again!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      January 16th, 2014 at 07:53 | #32

      Deena, Oh great. Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

  19. PA
    February 23rd, 2014 at 20:29 | #33

    Thank you for sharing this. I am making this dish for the first time and I am looking forward to trying it. I had planned on leaving off the onions, but based on the positive comments, I am going to try them. Thanks again.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      February 24th, 2014 at 20:57 | #34

      Thanks for the comment. I hope the recipe (and the onions) work out for you.

  20. R
    April 10th, 2014 at 22:33 | #35

    Thank you for making it so simple! We love this dish, but my sister-in-law made it sound like if it was a lot more complicated. She told us that the onions must be dry and can we do that? Again, thank you, we love your recipes!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 11th, 2014 at 17:38 | #36

      Thanks for reading. If you want the onions dry & crunchy, cook them quickly over high heat and allow them to burn a little. If you cook slowly over low heat, they will caramelize, which means they will be soft.

  21. Francine Soltani
    April 15th, 2014 at 05:47 | #37

    I was looking for recipes for mujaddara and I found yours!! How exciting! Can’t wait to try it. Miss you.

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      May 18th, 2014 at 09:19 | #38

      HI Francine, Thanks for stopping by & reading. Miss, you, too!

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