Mujaddara, or lentils and rice with caramelized onion (Egypt)

Mujaddara is eaten in several Middle-Eastern, Mediterranean and North-African countries. A funny fact is that in some countries it’s known as “megadarra”, which in colloquial Finnish would translate to a massive hangover! Other spellings include moujadara, mujadhara, mujadarra, moukentra, moujendra, mejadra and mudardara.

Mujaddara couldn’t really be simpler: it’s just rice, lentils, onion and salt. That makes it also somewhat unlike most dishes of the area. As a big lover of spices it was almost sacrilege for me. No spices! Not even garlic (well, as we all know, garlic is not really a spice, more like a food group, right?).

Nonetheless the result is very tasty because of the caramelized onions. My boyfriend first complained that it was too bland, but later admitted it was delicious. Ha.

I browsed through many recipes and eventually settled for this one. However, it says two large onions and I used three medium onions. Still, if I was to make this dish again (and I probably will) I’d probably use as many as four. The onion really shrinks a lot during the long frying time, and the caramelized onion is the whole point of the dish.

Instead of white rice you can also use bulgur or brown rice. In some countries bulgur is used more commonly than rice. The recipe makes 3-4 portions.


Mujaddara, megadarra or moukentra

3-4 onions, chopped
3 tbsp oil
1 cup/2.4 dl (uncooked) brown/green lentils
1/2 cup/1.2 dl (uncooked) rice
3 cups/7.2 dl water
1 tsp salt

Put the lentils and the water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Fry the onion in the oil for about 15 minutes. Scoop about 1/4 of the onion into the lentil-water mixture and add the rice and salt into it as well.

Turn the heat for the frying pan up a notch and keep frying the rest of the onion until it is brown and caramelized. Stir occasionally, but not too often (if you stir-fry the onion, it will never brown properly).

If you’re doing this right, everything should be done 30 minutes after starting: the onion will be caramelized and the rice and the lentils will be done. If the onion doesn’t yet look thoroughly caramelized, take the lentil rice pot off the stove and keep frying the onion. Serve hot, with the onion on top of the lentils and rice.

11 Responses to “Mujaddara, or lentils and rice with caramelized onion (Egypt)”

  1. 1

    This dish is very popular here too,where it is called “madjara”.I myself don’t eat it as I don’t eat rice, but I some people who cannot live without this……

  2. 2

    Just curious, but why don’t you eat rice?

  3. 3
    Aurora Kangaspuu

    I love this recipe, Maija! What a gorgeous blog! I love your photographs! Keep up the excellent work! Yay! :D

  4. 4

    Thanks for the comments on my blog! I love this recipe for Mujaddara. I will try it and let you know how it is! Looks great!!

  5. 5

    I am so very very pleased to have found your blog (and thank you for visiting mine!). All these dishes look lovely (nice pics!) and very very tempting. I shall return :) Hugs!

  6. 6

    Great blog, I like your photos and recipes. Thanks for stopping by mine so I could find yours!

  7. 7

    Beautiful photos! I love it when food that seems like it might be bland ends up being delicious. :-)

  8. 8

    Well,white rice is really an empty thing, nutritiously speaking ,and I prefer quinoa to it anyway,so that is the reason.

  9. 9

    What a wonderful idea for a blog! This dish sounds delicious, too :) x

  10. 10

    Mujaddara is a staple dish in any Lebanese household; the best one I have tried to make is the one with coarse bulgur, so -called mujaddara hamra (red) a specialty of the South of Lebanon. Try it and you will love it.

  11. 11

    Sounds good, I’ll have to try it! I eat bulgur much more often than rice, anyway.

Want to Leave a Reply?

You must be logged in to post a comment.