{Recipe} Mujaddara

Mujaddara is a popular dish throughout the Middle East. It consists of rice, brown lentils and onions.

Apparently, mujaddara is the Arab word for small pox! The lentils among the rice are said to resemble pockmarks. But, don’t let that put you off!

Just in case you are thinking of abandoning any plans to make this recipe, I will bestow on you a quote that demonstrates how important this dish is throughout the ‘Arab world’: ‘A hungry man would be willing to sell his soul for a dish of mujaddara’. Presumably, hungry women are too smart to sell their souls for a dish that shares its name with a debilitating disease!

Regardless, I am a fan of mujaddara because it is tasty and it uses ingredients that are staple foods in our household. I have only made mujaddara a handful of times, but the success of last night’s dinner has motivated me to consider preparing it more often.

The accompaniments can vary, depending on what you have available. Let’s face it, it is not hard to create side dishes that compliment rice and lentils!

I used a Lebanese mujaddara recipe to inspire me last night. That recipe is available here. I have adapted it by reducing the oil and salt content, and by adding cumin and cinnamon to enhance the flavour of the dish.

Last night, upon tasting his mujadarra, our 3 years old announced: ‘You should taste this. It’s yummy’. Moreover, my heart sang to see our 6 year old son, our Least Adventurous Eater, gobble it up enthusiastically. In fact, he stated that he was thankful for the rice and lentils during our dinnertime ‘being thankful session’!

I definitely did not share with them the origins of the name of the dish!

I served the mujaddara with Maple Baked Carrots with Sesame Seeds & Rosemary and Steamed Broccoli & Flaked Almonds.



Cooking time – 1 hour

Prep time – 30 minutes

Quantity – serves 4-5


1 large onion, cut into thin slices

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup brown (green) lentils, washed and soaked for 30 minutes

1 tsp salt (optional; I left it out)

4 cups water

1 1/2 cups Basmati rice


1. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a fry pan (skillet), then add cumin and cinnamon. Stir until fragrant, then add the thinly sliced onion.

2. Fry onion for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelised. Some burnt bits are good! Set aside.

3. In a saucepan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add lentils, salt (optional) and water. Stir well. Cover saucepan, and bring water to the boil.

4. Once the water is boiling, add the rice, and stir. Allow the water to simmer rapidly for 10 minutes, with the lid off. Stir occasionally. Most of that water will evaporate during this time.

5. Cover the saucepan, turn to a low heat and simmer until the rice and lentils are tender, about 7 minutes (mine was ready after 7 mins). If the lentils and rice are not cooked, simmer for a few minutes longer. You may also need to add more water if the mixture appears very dry.

6. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to stand with the lid on for 10 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork.

7. Scoop the rice mixture onto a large serving platter. I set 2 cups aside to use for school lunches (see below).

8. Top the rice with the sliced onions.  Serve with tomato wedges, fresh parsley, and lemon wedges. Sprinkle the Mujaddara with salt.



Maple Baked Carrots with Sesame Seeds and Rosemary

Serves 4 as a side dish

Cooking time – 30 minutes

Prep time – 5 minutes


2 large carrots, washed

1/2 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 tsp salt

raw sesame seeds

fresh rosemary, chopped


1. Pre-heat oven to 180 deg C / 350F

2.  Cut the carrots into thick slices, diagonally.

3. Place carrots into a baking dish. Pour maple syrup over the top. Sprinkle with salt. Use a spoon to mix carrots, coating them evenly with the syrup and salt.

4. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove dish from oven. Stir carrots. Return to oven for 15 minutes, or until cooked.

5, Serve on a small patter. Sprinkle carrots with raw sesame seeds and fresh rosemary. Serve immediately.


Steamed Broccoli and Flaked Almonds

Serves 4 as a side dish

cooking time- 5 mins

Prep time – 3 mins


2 cups broccoli florets, washed

flaked almonds


1. Lightly steam the broccoli in a stove top steamer for approximately 5 minutes. It should be bright green in colour and still retain its firmness.

2. Place broccoli on a platter and sprinkle with flaked almonds. Serve immediately.



School Lunches

I used half of the rice and lentil mixture that I set aside at dinner time, to prepare school lunches.

I added cooked peas, grated carrot, chopped parsley and raw pepitas to the rice mixture. I divided it between two lunch boxes. No resemblance to small pox now!

Are there any foods that you enjoy that have less than desirable names?

Each Monday, I feature a couple of delicious vegan recipes that are enjoyed by my own family. I hope your family enjoys them too!



About Ally
Mamma. Vegan. I blog at Made of Stars.

16 Responses to {Recipe} Mujaddara

  1. susykat says:

    This is one of my favourite dishes! I just love it. I had it a couple of weeks ago at Fatima’s in Surry Hills (Sydney). They make such a good one. I’m now inspired to make it this week 🙂

    • Ally says:

      Oh, I’d be interested to know how they make it! It seems as though no two recipes are the same. The addition of cinnamon really does wonders for this dish. I have a thing for cinnamon at the moment 🙂 Garnishing with mint would probably be more authentic too.
      Let me know how it goes.

  2. liveblissful says:

    That looks so good! I hope my future kids will appreciate healthy food like that, you are very lucky and a great mum!

    • Ally says:

      That is very kind of you! My kids do love vegies.
      But, you should have seen us last night! It was my daughter’s birthday. We had nachos – so lots of corn chips and melted cheezly, plus a lemon cheezcake and mocha almond fudge cake. There was salad, but it was seriously overshadowed by the sugar and salt!

  3. Brittany says:

    I am all over this meal! I think the name is great haha.

  4. Sophie33 says:

    What a fabulously, tasty & very wonderful dish that is so new to me! 🙂 It looks really tasty!
    I must make this soon!

  5. Thomas says:

    Great story and explanation of the Arabic name 😉 I love middle eastern food. I have eaten many dishes in Dubai when I lived there and appreciated the food. I have not ease this dish but I will try it.. One question you say about cooking the lentils for 10 mins and then you say add the rice to the lentils ? Is this right ? Just checking so I down stuff it up. Thank you.. Great see read your kids are eating these great foods too 😉 and loving them

    • Ally says:

      Hi Thomas! I apologise that the directions are ambiguous.

      Just to clarify – At step 3, you just want to bring the water to the boil, that is all. So, you have oil, lentils, salt and water in the saucepan. Bring the water to the boil.
      Once you have brought the water to the boil, add the rice to the saucepan. Sir the contents of the saucepan, and allow the water to simmer rapidly with the lid off for 10 minutes. Most of the water will evaporate during the 10 minutes.
      Then cover the saucepan, turn the heat low, and simmer for about 7 minutes. The lentils and rice will absorb the water. If not, simmer for a bit longer than 7 minutes.

      I hope that clears it up. I will edit the recipe to make it clearer. Thanks Thomas.

      When did you live in Dubai? That must have been interesting.

      • Thomas says:

        Hi Thanks for clarifying that. That’s cool 🙂 I like the sound of the dish a lot. I dont lived there for a short time in 2008 🙂 Have a great evening 🙂 and thanks again

      • Ally says:

        No problem! I’d hate you to make it, and it not turn out!
        We have a lot of rain here at the moment. A flood warning has been issued. How are you going?

      • Thomas says:

        Thanks. We had some heavy rain although today it was not that bad. No flood warning. That’s no good. Keep dry 😉

  6. Sarah says:

    Hey Alison, I’m off to make this yummers for dinner tonight, thanks for posting this. Need more options for lentils that I think will go down easefully with the girls, this sounds great! And we all are on the coal face of weather, northern rivers style – soldiering on on despite the windswept trees and swelling riverbanks dramatically depositing their reality yet again!!!!! Hope you guys are all ok on your side of the hill 🙂 🙂

    • Ally says:

      Hi Sarah! I hope you haven’t washed away down the hill! I love your description of the conditions.
      Our kids didn’t go to school today. It just felt safer to huddle inside. Perfect weather for indulging in popcorn and a movie. I made soup! What else can you do?!
      I hope the mujaddara was a success. Stay warm, stay dry. The rain sounds as though it may never let up!

  7. Pingback: {Virtual Vegan Potluck} Moroccan Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Stew | Made of Stars

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