Mujaddara (lentils rice with caramelized onion) is a well known Middle Eastern dish. It is super simple and absolutely delicious, not to mention it is very inexpensive and highly nutritious. It is basically an Arabic version of rice and beans.
My daughter loves this dish and I often make it for her school lunches. The key ingredient of this dish is the caramelized onions. They turn this sort of simple dish into an absolutely amazing and sophisticated concoction. The bonus is that the dish’s flavors improve with time. Please try it for yourself!
There are many versions of this recipe. Some of them recommend that you cook it in one pot. I followed a recipe from Food52 with some adjustments. I used brown basmati rice in place of jasmine. The recipe called for French lentils but I also made this dish with regular green lentils. If you do use the regular (green lentils) make sure not to overcook them.
- For the Mujaddara
- 1 cup French lentils or regular green lentils
- 1 cup brown rice ( jasmine or basmati)
- 3 medium onions (sweet Vidalia are best), halved and thinly sliced
- 4 -5 tablespoons of olive oil
- salt to taste
For the yogurt
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon spicy paprika or Aleppo pepper
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- Juice and zest of half a lemon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Put lentils, ½ teaspoon salt, and 4 of cups water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer lentils until soft but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain lentils and set aside.
- To cook the rice; rinse it with water several time. Place it in a pot with 2 cups of water and add ½ teaspoon of salt. Typical proportion to cook rice is: 1 portion of rice to 2 portions of liquid. Bring it to a boil, cover and simmer for 18 to 25 minutes for white and 30 to 40 minutes for brown. Don't take off the lid while the rice is cooking — this lets the steam out and affects the cooking time. When the rice is cooked, set aside.
- While the rice is cooking put some oil in a sauté pan over medium-low heat and add the sliced onion. After 5 minutes, the onions will have softened slightly and started to release their liquid. Raise the heat to medium and cook 10 to 12 more minutes, until onions are very soft, browned and start to crisp. Don’t stir it too much otherwise the onions will not crisp up. When ready the onions should be dark, or even very dark and golden brown.
- Combine rice, lentils, and most of the onions in large serving bowl and let sit for at least 15 minutes to marry the flavors together. Taste, and add more onions if desired.
- Meanwhile, make the yogurt dip. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.
- To serve, plate a big scoop of mujaddara and top with a dollop of yogurt.