Published May 26, 2010 - Last Updated January 22, 2021
Mujadara, a simple and comforting dish made with rice and lentils, is popular all throughout the Arab world. The first recorded recipe can be found in a cookbook from Iraq that was published in 1226, though the origins of the dish stretch back much further than that. It is one of my favorite vegetarian side dishes, a healthy and filling complete protein.
I first learned this recipe from a Sephardic Jewish family from India. The Ashtamker family moved to Israel not long after it became a nation, then made their way to America about 20 years ago. They have shared many special meals with us over the years. I love their family recipes, but most of them require a trip to the local Middle Eastern or Indian markets—the spices and ingredients can’t always be found in a regular grocery store. Exploring those tiny markets can be fun, but when I share a recipe with you I try to keep things simple, using ingredients that can be found at your local supermarket.
Of all the dishes the Ashtamker family has taught us, the one I make most often is their version of mujadara. This dish is popular throughout the Middle East and Arab world. It is frequently eaten by Jewish families because it’s kosher, dairy free, and very inexpensive to prepare. The ingredients should all be easy to find at your local market.
While it is typically served as a side dish, I often eat mujadara as an entrée when I’m in the mood for a filling vegetarian meal. Be sure to follow the directions as written, it will make your mujadara nice and fluffy.
If you are eating this as an entrée and you don’t mind making it a dairy meal, try topping it with some Greek yogurt along with the caramelized onions—it is simple and delicious!
One note— you might notice that I’ve added a “Gluten Free” category to my blog. I hope this is helpful to those of you who are avoiding gluten! If it is, leave me a comment and let me know. 🙂
To learn more about the Jewish community in India, click here.
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Thanks for stopping by! I am fascinated by the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the foods of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s food can inspire us in the kitchen today. Read more...