Tali’s Mujadarah – Rice and Lentils with Fried Onion

July 29, 2013 Published by Dina

My sister-in-law Tali is visiting from overseas and needless to say I put her to work in the kitchen preparing some of my favourite foods from Israel that she is an expert in making. Tali is a natural cook who knows instinctively what goes with what and how much of this or that to put in the dish. We have been having fun cooking in the kitchen for our group of 7 (vegetarian and non-vegetarians). The other day she made what they call “ptitim”, (similar to what we know as Israeli couscous). Today it was Mujadarah, a middle eastern dish of rice and lentils cooked together with onions that have been first caramelized in olive oil. Some cooks use the onion as a garnish over the cooked Mujadara, Tali mixes it in with the cooked rice and lentils. However you choose to present it, it is really delicious and simple and my kind of food. For me this is dinner, with a salad and a green vegetable on the side. What else do you need? I have a variation of the recipe here where I add a few vegetables to the rice and lentils (see image below), but here is Tali’s more traditional recipe the way she has been making it for her family for years:


Caramelized onions:

4 onions, chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the oil in a large skillet.

Add onion and cook on medium heat until the onion is golden and nicely caramelized. Remove from heat and keep warm.

The rice and  lentils:

1 1/2 cups green lentils

1 1/2 cups Basmati rice

2 1/4 cups water

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons coarse sea salt.


Rinse the lentils in a strainer, then place in a bowl, fill the bowl with cold water and let the lentils soak for a couple of hours (Tali soaks them for 8 hours but I think less soaking also works).

Rinse the rice in a strainer, drain and set aside until ready to proceed.

When ready to cook the Mujadara drain the lentils and place in a 2 quart pot.

Add the rice, water, olive oil and salt. Mix with a wooden spoon and then bring to boil.

Lower heat to lowest flame and continue cooking, covered, for 25 minutes. No peeking, keep the lid on.

After 25 minutes lift the lid and fluff the rice and lentils with a fork gently. Close the lid again and let rest off the heat for 5-10 minutes.

Add the caramelized onion and gently stir into the Mujadarah, fluffing it nicely with a fork.


Add the caramelized onion


Mujadarah (Rice and lentils with caramelized onions)

Rice and lentils


Rice and lentils with vegetables and harissa


  • alexis says:

    Look delish! and love the wooden tray.

    • Dina says:

      Hi Jaelene, I can see you pulling off something like that. You know how to have fun.

  • Hulda Niv says:

    Dear Dina,
    A year ago I invited few friends for a dinner and decided to make the mujadarah more interesting so I used the following ingredients:
    0.5 cup basmati rice
    0.5 cup green lentils
    1/5 cup wild rice
    I also add 1 tsp of cumin seeds when frying the onion.

    • Dina says:

      Hi Hulda, great idea. The wild rice would add a nutty, chewy element and cumin is always nice with mediterranean type dishes. We’ll make some when you visit.