MUJADDARA - Lebanese rice pilaf

I’ll bet you didn’t think that you could cook a Lebanese rice pilaf, in under an hour, on a weeknight, did you? Well you can - and should. Mujaddara is an extremely popular, Middle Eastern pilaf, spiced with toasted whole spices, sumac, and flavoured with a pile of caramelized onions. Traditionally, the onions would be deep fried or lightly dusted in flour and shallow fried until crispy. Delicious? Yes. Time consuming? Also yes. My version skips the deep frying, is just as flavourful and requires less than half of the effort. You can eat this as a side dish with any meat. fish or even as part of a vegetarian or vegan meal. But, because rice and lentils make up a complete protein, you can even eat it by itself. If you feel like it needs a little something more and you’re short on time, eat it with a fried egg on top. Whatever you do, don’t forget the hummus and / or yogurt sauce. Recipes for both at the end of the recipe.  


1 cup basmati rice

3/4 cup brown lentils - picked over and rinsed

1 large onion - thinly sliced

1 cinnamon stick

1 black cardamom pod (if you can't find this you can omit it)

9 black peppercorns - whole

1/2 tsp cumin seeds - whole

1/2 tsp coriander seeds - whole

1/4 tsp sumac powder

2 tbsp butter or vegan butter

1 3/4 cups water

1/2 tsp salt


1. wash the rice. this step is important so don't skip it. 

  • place the rice in a bowl and cover with cold water

  • with clean hands, reach into the bowl and scrunch handfuls of the rice between your fingers. you'll see the water start to become cloudy. 

  • drain the water from the bowl (careful to not let the rice fall out!) and repeat 2 more times

  • once the rice is washed and drained, place it into a medium sized, heavy bottomed pot. you will use this pot to cook the final dish.

2. place the lentils in a small pot and cover with cold water. bring to a boil and cook until the lentils are tender - around 15 minutes. Once the lentils are cooked, drain them and place them in the same pot as the rice. It's ok if they are still hot.

3. In a small frying pan, heat 3 tbsp olive oil. when hot, add the sliced onion. stirring occasionally, let the onions cook until well caramelized. Be patient - this will take around 15 minutes.

4. add the cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, coriander and sumac to the same pan as the onions. stir and let them toast in the hot oil until fragrant - around 1 minute.

5. scrape all of the contents of the frying pan into the pot with the rice and lentils. add the water, butter and salt, 

6. place your pot with all the ingredients on the stove over a medium high heat. bring to a boil.

7. once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed. 

8. remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. fluff the rice with a fork. 

9. garnish with pomegranate seeds, cilantro leaves and a squeeze of lemon.

Traditionally this is served with a yogurt sauce. To make it, simply place some plain yogurt in a bowl, give it a squeeze of lemon, a dash of sumac and a pinch of salt. You can even add some chopped mint.

If you wish to serve this with hummus, you can find my recipe (for the best hummus ever) here. To make it regular hummus vs beetroot hummus, simply omit the beet.