Video: How to make mujadara

Afife Harris, from Lebanon, shows how to make mujadara, a rice, lentil and onion vegetarian dish.


Afife Harris
Afife Harris
Afife Harris came to Dunedin more than 20 years ago with her husband Bill, who teaches at the University of Otago. In those days it was difficult to find the things she needed to make Lebanese food, but now things like burgul, sumac and olive oil are readily available. She teaches cooking classes at Logan Park High School and has a stall at the Otago Farmers Market.

This is comfort food for people from the Middle East. You don't serve it when people are coming for dinner, as it's often considered a dish of the poor, but Afife says it's her children's favourite.

Lebanese Maronite Christians ate it on Fridays and during Lent, when they had to abstain from meat, but people of all religions enjoyed it.



Mujadara (lentils, onions and rice with caramelised topping)


A plate of mujadara. Wikimedia Commons photo.
A plate of mujadara. Wikimedia Commons photo.

2 onions, chopped
1-2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 cup brown lentils
3-6 cups water
1 cup rice
salt and pepper to taste

For the caramelised onions

1 large onion sliced thinly into rings
1 Tbsp olive oil



Dice the onions and cook in vegetable oil until soft but not brown.

Check the lentils for stones or other unwanted bits, wash, and add to the cooked onions. Add water and bring to the boil. Simmer with the lid off until cooked.

The time this takes depends on the lentils. If they have been heat-treated they will take a long time and you will need to add more water. Test by squeezing a lentil. When soft it is done. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wash the rice and stir it in. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, then put the lid on the pan and turn the heat off.

To make caramelised onions, slice an onion thinly into rings. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan then add the onion slices and stir. The rings will separate. Cook slowly, stirring from time to time, until the onions soften and darken in colour.

Serve the lentils, onions and rice topped with the caramelised onion and a salad and flat bread.

• This dish, found everywhere in homes and humble kitchens in the Middle East, is ancient. Something like it, perhaps made with barley or wheat instead of rice, is said to have been the potage for which Esau sold his birthright to his younger brother Jacob in the Old Testament story.


Thanks to Centre City New World.

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