Don’t be fooled by the simple ingredients in this Mujadarra. This classic dish is absolutely delicious!

Mujadarra - Don't be fooled by the simple ingredients in this classic Middle Eastern dish! A delicious side made from caramelized onions over lentils and brown rice. Simple but delicious!


I’m always thrilled to discover easy recipes made with ingredients that we always have on hand in our kitchen – and once combined – it tastes absolutely delicious! Such is the case with today’s recipe called Mujadarra.

What is Mujadarra?

Mujadarra is a classic dish made from lentils and brown rice that have been smothered in caramelized, seasoned onions. It’s a staple in Middle-Eastern diets and there are now many new variations of this dish with different lentils, grains and seasonings – but today’s recipe closely follows the more traditional version.

Mujadarra - Don't be fooled by the simple ingredients in this classic Middle Eastern dish! A delicious side made from caramelized onions over lentils and brown rice. Simple but delicious!


According to Wikipedia, the word mujadarra is the Arabic word for “pockmarked” – with the thought that the name of the dish is inspired by the lentils among the rice resembling pockmarks.

But don’t be fooled by the simple ingredients in this recipe! The flavors are rich and comforting and mujadarra is a wonderful side dish to just about any meal. (It’s also hearty enough to serve as a meatless meal if you’d like!)

Adapted from My Jewish Learning.



  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings


  • 2½ cups water
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
  • 1 cup short grain brown rice (we recommend Lundberg brand)
  • 2 large Vidalia or white onions, cut in half, then sliced into thin rings (approximately 4 cups)
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika


  1. In a medium-sized saucepan with cover, combine water, salt, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the brown rice and lentils to the saucepan and bring back to a boil.
  2. Once the lentils and rice have reached a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for approximately 40-45 minutes or until the brown rice and lentils are tender. Turn off heat and allow to sit covered for 5 minutes.
  3. While the rice and lentils are cooking, prepare the onions. In a large skillet, heat the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil over medium high heat, tipping the skillet so that the oil evenly coats the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the sliced onions, and cook for about 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions are a deep golden color, and the edges of the onions are well caramelized. Once cooked, remove from the heat and sprinkle the paprika over the onions. Stir to combine.
  5. Give the rice and lentil mixture a stir, then pour into a serving bowl. Top with caramelized onions and serve. (This dish is delicious served hot off the stove or at room temperature.)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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Mujadarra - Don't be fooled by the simple ingredients in this classic Middle Eastern dish! A delicious side made from caramelized onions over lentils and brown rice. Simple but delicious!

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  • Petrena wrote:

    Could you use red lentils with this recipe? I have those on hand.

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Petrena – I don’t see why not. In my experience, red lentils don’t take as long to cook so you’ll need to adjust your cooking time.

  • Shari wrote:

    Could you prepare this dish in an instant pot?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Shari – I don’t know…I’ve never tried doing so and unfortunately we’re not at all experts on adapting recipes for the Instant Pot. Sorry I can’t be more help!

  • Joyce wrote:

    If I double the lentils in this dish, how much water should I use?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Joyce – I’m guessing a bit with this answer…the bulk of the water is absorbed by the rice and assuming you are using the Lundberg’s short grain rice that we used, that’s approximately 1 cup of rice to about 1 1/2 cups water. So – that leaves 1/2 cup lentils to 1 cup water remaining. If you are doubling just the lentils but leaving the rice amount the same – I’d probably start with maybe an extra 1/2 cup of water and then check midway through the cooking time, adding up to another 1/2 cup as needed. The cooking time may vary with the extra lentils (depending on the size of your saucepan) so I’m just trying to avoid having the rice get mushy with extra water added. Hope that helps – please let us know how it works out!

  • Annissa wrote:

    Oh my goodness!! I’m so happy I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest, it’s absolutely delicious!!! I was looking for something to do with the rice and lentils we had in our cupboard, what a success!
    I cooked the rice in homemade chicken stock and added a bay leaf and some salt, pepper and garlic powder while the rice cooked. Used canned lentils, so threw them in the last 5 mins or so. WOW. Tasty! The onions make this recipe, so if you can, make more than what it calls for (I LOVE carmelized onions!!)

    Thank you so much for such a great filling protein packed recipe! I’ll be making this (with water/veg broth) for all holiday dishes as a side for my vegan/veggie friends. ☺️

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re welcome Annissa – agree that the caramelized onions are the best! 🙂

  • Anastasia Schreyack wrote:

    My family really enjoyed this recipe as a main dish. We added fresh squeezed lemon, salt and pepper for garnish and it really added flavor.

    • Martha wrote:

      Sounds delicious – great additions!

  • Lizzi wrote:

    Awesome recipe. Used red onions and added roasted eggplant. Thank you!

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re welcome Lizzi – sounds delicious!

  • Sarah wrote:

    A friend of mine made this recently, and I had to give it a try myself. It was absolutely delicious and so flavorful! Wouldn’t change a thing!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Sarah! We’re so glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • lisa wrote:

    Just made this and it seriously is 100% better then I thought it would be. I am hooked. Thanks for sharing.

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome – so glad you liked the recipe Lisa! (Who knew such simple ingredients would be so delicious?!) 🙂

  • Laurie wrote:

    I made Mujadarra last week (a slightly different recipe) and it was delicious. I cooked the rice in chicken stock and used canned lentils drained and rinsed which I added near the end just to heat, so they retained their texture. I also used 1 tsp of cumin, a pinch of cinnamon, and some hot pepper flakes. I will definitely make it again but I think next time I will also add some raisins which I’m sure is not traditional, but I like sweet and savoury together.

    • Martha wrote:

      Sounds delicious Laurie! I agree – some contrasting flavors go very nicely with the mujadarra (We enjoy serving it with our cucumber salad – the vinegary contrast of the salad contrasts well with the lentils and rice!)

      • Carla wrote:

        Hehe I was just looking at this recipe and thinking I have some cucumbers to make salad alongside… Can’t wait for dinner tonight 😊

        • Martha wrote:

          We hope you had a great dinner Carla! 🙂

  • Evonne P. wrote:

    This is recipe is so good, and you only need a few ingredients.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you! 🙂

  • Kelly Mendoza wrote:

    I’ve made this several times now and everyone loves it. It is now one of our mainstays.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Kelly! So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Katie wrote:

    I’ve tried this recipe a couple of times. The times I made it to the recipe, it was perfect. Superb. I never knew that rice and lentils cooked in salt and oil water would taste so damn good.
    The second time I tried it…I was almost out of rice. So I reversed the ratios. What could go wrong? Well turns out literally everything because they ended up like dry sloppy garbage. So don’t futz with this recipe because it 👏 does 👏 not 👏 work.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks for letting us know Katie! 🙂

  • Ashley wrote:

    What are the nutrition facts for this recipe.? Thank you

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Ashley – We aren’t nutritionists so we don’t calculate nutritional values for our recipes – but there are a number of free online calculators you could try if you need that information.

  • Richiej wrote:

    Followed this to the T and it came out great. Just started eating vegetarian and this recipe is a keeper. Very tasty without being overpowering so I feel I can make a batch and eat some almost every day. Easy and inexpensive to make. Winner!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Richie! So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Carolyn Holliday wrote:

    I made this and it was delicious, I had never heard of it before but looking at the ingredients is what really caught my interest. I’m vegan and I’m all ways looking for different ways to cook vegan meals and this one OMG sooo good

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Carolyn! So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Eve wrote:

    Very delicious, although being a carnivore.. I do wish that there was some meat in the dish to bring it up to the 5 star rating. The one real complaint I have though, is that 2 and a half cups of water was not enough to cook the rice and lentils for me.. this may be due to my high altitude, but for other high altitude readers, I found on my 2nd time cooking this recipe that 3 and a half cups of water works well. Thanks for the delicious recipe!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you for sharing your feedback Eve! We’re glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • DrLeonesse wrote:

    I discovered Mujadarra at a potluck forty years ago. Your classic version reminds me how much I love it. “Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold, pease porridge in the pot nine days old.” Yes! Hot. Yes! Cold…any which way until the pot is empty.

    • Martha wrote:

      I agree! 🙂 This dish is great hot or cold! (I love the leftovers served with our cucumber salad too!) 🙂

  • Maria Rangel wrote:

    I made this today and though the flavor was great my lentils were still hard. I added the amount of liquid that the recipe called for, what went wrong. Did the lentils needed to be soaked before?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Maria – No – we don’t soak our lentils before cooking. I’ve read a few possible explanations: – also I’ve heard that hard water can impact the cooking time of lentils and other legumes and a possible solution is to add some baking soda to the cooking water. I’m sorry you were disappointed in the results! Hope this helps!

  • Ann wrote:

    I made it many times but I recommend cumin , black pepper , allspice , coriander in the pot while boiling the lentils ! I serve it with salad with a meditaranian dressings ( home made ) but the salad should be cut in small pieces . I usually use cucumber , tomatoes , fresh parsley chopped & fresh mint ( optional) !
    For my dressing , I use olive oil , fresh squeezed lemon , salt , pepper !

    • Martha wrote:

      Sounds delicious Ann! Thank you for the suggestion!

  • Sara P wrote:

    I’m a hungry girl cooking for one, so I cut the amount of onions and oil in half but kept everything else the same, and it made 3 superbly filling portions.

    THIS IS SO GOOD. Thank you for a great recipe!

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Sara! So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

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