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Mujadara - Spiced Rice and Lentils with Crispy Onions

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Recipe Information

Category: Main Dishes
# of Servings: 4-6
Recipe Created By: KFA Food Bloggers

Mujadara - Spiced Rice and Lentils with Crispy Onions

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2 cups long grain rice such as basmati
1 cup lentils, preferably French green or black beluga
4 cups water
2-3 inch piece of lemon peel
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 cups water
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 lg onion, cut into thin slices
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup dairy-free yogurt alternative or kefir
1/2 lemon juiced
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground red pepper such as Aleppo
1/4 tsp salt


This can be made in a rice cooker, instant pot/pressure cooker or a saucepan on the stove. Directions are given for all three methods.

Place rice in the rice cooker, instant pot bowl or saucepan. Rinse rice and cover with water. Soak for 2 hours. Drain the rice into a colander.

Add lentils and 4 cups water into the rice cooker, instant pot bowl or saucepan.

Rice Cooker: Set to "quick" cycle. Cook for 15 minutes once it starts to boil.
Instant Pot: Set to "manual" and cook lentils for 10 minutes. Use the quick-release pressure method.
Stovetop: Cook for 15 minutes once it starts to boil.

Drain in the colander with the drained rice. The lentils will not be fully cooked.

Rinse out rice cooker, instant pot bowl or saucepan. Return soaked rice and cooked lentils to the cooker. Add 3 cups of water along with the spices.

Rice Cooker: Set rice cooker for "quick" cycle. The rice cooker will automatically switch to off or keep warm once all the liquid is absorbed.
Instant Pot: Set the instant pot to "manual" for 6 minutes.
Stovetop: Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

While rice and lentils are cooking, prepare spiced "yogurt" sauce and crispy onions. See below.

Rice Cooker: Once the rice cooker switches to "keep warm," allow to steam for 10 minutes.
Instant Pot: Allow 10 minutes for natural pressure release, then quick release any remaining pressure.
Stovetop: Remove from heat and allow to steam, covered, for 10 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Fluff with a fork or rice paddle. Serve with crispy onions, spiced "yogurt" sauce and chopped parsley.

Spiced "Yogurt" Sauce:
Mix together yogurt, lemon juice and spices. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sprinkle with extra red pepper if desired.

Crispy Onions:
Heat olive oil in a wide, heavy pan over medium high heat. Add sliced onions and saute, stirring frequently, until onions are crispy and very browned. These should be rather crispy and darker than typical caramelized onions. Make sure the onions don't start to burn. Reduce heat if needed.

Crispy onions can be made in the instant pot on saute mode before cooking lentils. Fry onions, then set aside while lentils and rice are cooking. Reheat before serving if needed.


My family eats a lot of rice and lentils and loves spices! So, when I learned about the Middle Eastern dish, I had to try it. It quickly became a family favorite for "Meatless Monday," especially with my son. He even learned to make this for his vegetarian friends at college. This is flavorful and tangy with lemon and warm spices.

This delicious and filling vegan meal is easy to make in a rice cooker or instant pot. If you don't have either, you can make it on a pot on the stove. Make the crispy onions and spiced "yogurt" topping while the rice and lentils cook.


If not avoiding milk, you can use milk-based yogurt or kefir. The dish will be vegetarian but not vegan.

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