Mujaddara – rice with lentils and crispy fried onions

Mujadarra is a Palestinian rice and lentil dish served with lots of crispy fried onions (and I mean lots) a large dollop of creamy yoghurt and a fresh citrussy green salad. Fragrant with spices, warming and quick to make it is a great midweek dinner.

You can very the amounts below; more lentil, more rice depending on your preference of course. If you add more lentils, add 1 extra tsp of cumin.

Serves 5


250g dried brown or green lentils

300g white basmati rice or Turkish badoo rice

5 white onions

2 cloves garlic

3 tsp cumin seeds toasted and ground

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp all spice

2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp coriander seeds bashed up

400 ml vegetable stock

3 tbsp olive oil for the rice and lentils

150 ml olive oil to fry the onions

3 tsp sea salt

250 ml natural or greek yoghurt

Soak the rice in water for at least half an hour.

Slice all the onions thinly. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions and fry them, keeping an eye on them and move them around from time to time. They should be very dark brown and sticky by the end. Drain off any excess oil, toss the onions around and set aside.

Meanwhile put your lentils on to boil. Cover with water and let them simmer for ten minutes. No longer, as they will cook again in the rice and they should not be mushy. Drain them off in a sieve and set aside. Reserve the lentil water.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan (one with a fitted lid) and then add the garlic, coriander and cumin. Then add the rice and all the other spices listed above. Make sure the rice is completely coated in the spice mixture. Add the salt and the stock. It should cover the rice by approximately 1½ cm. If it doesn’t,  top it up with the reserved lentil water. Bring to the boil and then turn it right down to a simmer. Put the lid on and simmer gently for fifteen minutes.

When it is ready, mix in 1/3 of the fried onions. Serve with Arabic chopped salad, a dollop of yoghurt and a generous amount of extra fried onions on top of the rice.

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