Mujadara is such a simple dish, one that was made so much more often when times were also much simpler. It’s a classic arab dish made from rice and lentils. You can also make it using bulgur. It’s typically topped with crispy fried onions and served with yogurt and a simple arabic salad.
Mujadara used to be made almost weekly in most arab households. My mom was one of 12 kids, and her dad (god have mercy on his soul) was barely keeping up. My grandmother (god have mercy on her soul) would tell me how she would cook a lot of lentils. Lentils are very high in fiber and protein and make a great substitute for meat. Because they weren’t able to afford meat very often, they would find other ways to get in filling meals. And lentils were very cheap. So Mujadara was on the menu once a week.
The first time I learned how to make Mujadara, my grandmother actually made it with me and showed me how to make it. It was one of the only arab dishes I cooked at home because my mom did the cooking. This however, was so easy to make. Now looking back at it, I can remember all the details of my grandmother teaching me to make it. I can literally hear her voice as she showed me how. That being said, nothing I make will ever replicate her cooking. She made even the most simple dishes taste extravagant.
As arabs, we always say that cooking comes from the soul. Literally. That you have to have a “Nafas”. That when someone is an amazing cook they have a “nafas” for cooking. I didn’t get it back then. Now, I do. I still remember how I used to HATE eggplants. One day I went to my grandmothers and she had fried eggplant slices. They were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. She put two slices in a piece of pita bread and sprinkled them with salt and offered it to me. Turning it down wasn’t an option. I will never in my life forget the taste of that sandwich. Eggplant is now one of my absolute favorite vegetables. And everytime I eat it I think of her.
Mujadara is so simple to make. And it’s absolutely delicious. It’s such a filling and balanced meal and comes together in under an hour. Make this dish. Enjoy it with your family. When you do, make a duaa for my grandmother and my grandfather. It always baffles me when I make a dish that someone taught me. How their legacy gets passed on. How they raised good kids and grandkids that will pray for them. How their love for something, and how them cooking and caring for their grandkids earned them prayers from random people around the world after their death. May we have the same privilege from our children and grandchildren one day. And may god grant us the best reunion with them in the highest ranks of heaven.Print
Mujadara – Lentils and Rice
Mujadara is a rice and lentil dish topped with crispy onions fried in olive oil and served with yogurt and an arabic salad. The perfect simple meal. And so easy to make!
2 cups brown lentils
2 Cups Sela Basmati Rice
2 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tbsp Salt
2 onions, thinly sliced into wings
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups olive oil
Rinse your lentils and make sure they are clean. Pour into a pot with the salt and cumin and cover with 6 cups of water. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until they’re tender. You don’t want them falling apart because they will cook a little more with the rice.
Once they’re cooked, strain them and set the cooking liquid aside. In the same pot, add your rinsed rice and the cooked lentils. Gently mix them together. Measure out 4 1/4 cups of the cooking liquid. Taste and add additional salt if needed. Pour on to the rice and lentils and bring to a boil. Once it boils, cover it with a lid and lower the heat to a low simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, untouched.
While the rice is cooking thinly slice your onions. Seperate the onion slices and place them in a ziploc bag with the flour. Shake to coat them. Heat the olive oil and fry the onions until golden brown. Set aside.
Fluff your cooked rice and sprinkle the fried onions on top. Serve with arabic salad and yogurt. Enjoy!