Dec 152008

majadra recipe

In every Middle Eastern country, people love the vegetarian combination of lentils and rice topped with fried onions.   Recipes vary from country to country and indeed from cook to cook, but all cooks know how tasty and satisfying majadra is. And all families ask for it. My married daughter once told me of a time when she was pregnant and fancied some majadra.

“I cooked up a big potful, then I sat down and ate the whole thing myself! I guess the baby wanted majadra.”

Some cooks keep it simple and some enjoy making it elaborate with spices and herbs. The name also varies from region to region: I’ve heard the dish called Majadra, Majadehra,  and Mujaderah. My Moroccan consuegra calls it Majadra, so I do too. To save fuel, people cook the rice and lentils together,  but I like to cook them separately and mix them later, because the final dish is more attractive.

If I want a side dish, I’ll serve it about 2/3 rice to 1/3 lentils, as in the photo above. Actually I just mix it by eye, till I judge that there are enough lentils. Leftover lentils? They freeze well.

For a substantial main dish, I use proportions of 50/50%. Traditionally majadra is served with yoghurt. To this, add a cooked vegetable or a salad, and you have a complete protein and an inexpensive, balanced meal.


serves 6


3/4 cup brown or black lentils

1  bay leaf

2  cups water

2 onions

More olive oil

Pick over and rinse the lentils. Simmer them in the water, with the bay leaf, till they are soft but not mushy. Depending on the quality of the lentils, this might take 30-40 minutes. Do not add salt. Add more water if it looks like they’re drying out, but if they finish cooking and there’s water left over, just drain them and return them to the pot.

Add salt to taste after the lentils are done. Remove the bay leaf.


1 1/2 cups rice

2 tablespoons. olive oil

3  cups water, boiling

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tsp. powdered cumin

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

More salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the rice and allow it to drain almost dry.
Heat the oil gently and add the rice, stirring to coat the grains with oil.
When the rice has become transparent, add the garlic. Stir half a minute, then add the salt and the water.
Bring to a boil, then cover the pot and lower the flame to the lowest setting. Cook the rice till all the water has evaporated and the grains are tender and separate.

While the rice is cooking, slice the onions thinly.

Pour 2 tablespoons  olive oil into a non-stick pan and caramelize the onions over the lowest possible flame, stirring once in a while. You want them very soft and golden, not brown and crisp.

When the onions are done – 10-15 minutes – add the cumin, cinnamon, and  a little  salt and pepper.

Final step: fluff the rice with a fork. Combine the cooked lentils and the rice, mixing gently with the fork so as not to mash them. Stir some of the caramelized onion in,  and top the dish with the rest of the onions.

Often-used options:

  • Occasionally I chop 1/2 cup of cilantro leaves and add them to the onions a minute before taking them off the flame.
  • I sometimes add a little powdered turmeric to the onions while they’re cooking.
  • You can also add small amounts 1/4- 1/2 tsp. –  of grated fresh ginger root and more cinnamon to the onions while they cook.
  • Majadra is even more delicious if you caramelize the onions in a butter, or drizzle a little melted butter over the dish before serving.
  • Mince a small garlic clove and mix it, with a little salt and olive oil, into 1/4 cup plain white yogurt. Spoon some of the seasoned yogurt over each serving.


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  17 Responses to “Majadra: Fragrant Middle-Eastern Lentils and Rice”

  1. Just one of the recipes I was looking for!

  2. My daughter LOVES mejedra. Usually I just prepare the add-water-and-boil type that comes in an envelope, but maybe I could try your recipe instead. I’m sure that it would be much better!

  3. Wow, you have a great blog! I will surely be back. :o)

  4. Raizy,
    This isn’t hard to make from scratch, and has to taste better than a commercial product. Well, I guess that’s true of any food.

  5. I have always wanted to make this dish and just haven’t taken the time to do it. Looks delicious.

  6. Just wanted to let you know I made this recipe last week and even the daughter who doesn’t like lentils ate this.

    It was SO easy to made and SOOOOOO yummy!


  7. I love mujadra! I make it all the time and it is such a hearty and flavorful dish. I never used garlic in mine, but I use a lot more cumin. Will definitely try the garlic next time!

    Here’s my recipe…

  8. ChefMonsta, you’re my kind of cook.

  9. Majadra is a traditional lebanese cuisine ( south ) , but not this way.
    without garlic and without bay leaves, this sound delicious I will give a try to cook it.

  10. Yes, Maram, I understand there are lots of regional variations. So how do you make majadra?

  11. […] Kombi von Reis mit Linsen mit Zwiebeln und Gewürzen sehr lecker. Gefunden habe ich das Rezept auf diesem israelischen Kochblog, wo ihr sicher auch andere feine Rezepte […]

  12. This is one of my favorite dishes at a restaurant we frequent and I finally wanted to know how to make it myself. Thank you SO VERY much, it is more than delicious! I am so happy I found your site. P.S. My husband and I can’t stop going ‘mmm mmmm mmmm’ :)

  13. Michelle, I’m glad you’re enjoying majadra now. It’s one of my favorite all-time dishes.

  14. What is this recipe doing here? This is not an Israeli dish. This is a dish common in many Arab countries.

  15. Josef, you’re right about the dish being found in many Arab countries. So are falafel, majadra, and roast chicken stuffed with rice and fruit, all of which appear on this blog. Israel’s culinary glory comes from its happy absorption of foods native to all ethnic streams of Judaism, and I first came to eat this dish in an Iraqi-influenced restaurant that sits in Mahaneh Yehudah market, Jerusalem. Hag Pesach sameach!

  16. Exactly the recipe I was looking for! Thanks!!

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