When it comes to one of the most traditional lentil dishes, you should try making “Mjadara Hamra” at least once in your lifetime. Mujadara is one of the Mediterranean recipes, a Lebanese recipe that is a specialty of South Lebanon. It is inexpensive, delicious, vegan, and nutritious.
The blend of lentils, crispy caramelized onions, and bulgur will bring out a sweet flavor and fill your kitchen with a delicious aroma that will invade the neighborhood.
A Tasty Vegetarian Meal
This authentic Mjadara recipe is my go-to dish when I need a meatless meal. It only has three ingredients, but it is amazing how they come together with perfect harmony.
What is Mjadara Hamra?
“Mjadara Hamra”, which translates to “Red Lentils,” is a signature dish from South Lebanon. Mujadara gets its dark brown color from the caramelization of the chopped onions. To give the lentils a nice texture, cracked wheat (bulgur) is traditionally added.
This dish is also known as “meat of the poor” or “peasant food”. People of all social classes frequently prepare it, owing to its nutritional value which is comparable to that of meat. You can serve this dish hot or cold, with a side dish of fattoush salad, cucumber and Greek yogurt, cabbage salad, or simply plain yogurt.
Brown Lentils: Traditionally, brown lentils are used in the authentic mujadara recipe. Most grocery stores, especially health food stores, like Whole Foods or Sprouts, should have them. However, avoid using red lentils because they tend to become very soft and mushy when cooked. In this mujadara (mudardara) recipe, you want the lentils to stay whole and intact.
Cracked wheat (bulgur): Using coarse bulgur wheat results in a soft, chewy texture. It also makes the dish much more filling, making this the perfect complete meal.
Red or white onions: You will need lots of onions for this recipe. You can use red or white onions; however, it’s preferable that you use red onions when making “Mujadara Hamra.”
Mjadara Hamra: The Queen of Lebanese Dishes
Mjadara Hamra vs Mujadaret Roz
You can serve Mjadara Hamra in a variety of ways. It has different names depending on where you are in the Middle East. Mujadara Hamra, Mujadara Safra, Mujadarah Makhbousa, and Mujadaret Roz, and Mudardara are all types of Mujadara.
The traditional Lebanese mujadara (Mujadaret Roz), similar to Syrian mjadara, contains brown lentils and cooked rice, either brown rice or white rice. The rice can also be short grain or long grain as white basmati. On top of the lentils, you need to put caramelized onions, and they are an essential part of the dish.
On the other hand, “Mjadara Hamra,” which translates as “Red Lentils,” includes cooking lentils with lots of onions until they are dark but not burnt. To give the lentils a nice texture, coarse bulgur is traditionally added.
Both types of Mujadara are great recipes, a very good source of protein and fibers. That’s why you should keep them in your regular recipe rotation.
What is Bulgur Wheat?
Bulgur or burghul comes from cracked whole-grain wheat kernels that are parboiled and dried before packaging. So they cook al dente more quickly than other varieties of whole wheat such as wheat berries (the raw variety), or freekeh, (the kernels from young green wheat, that are cracked but not cooked).
Where to Buy Bulgur Wheat?
Bulgur wheat is available in most health food stores. Check out the bulk foods section or the baking aisle with other whole grains. Bulgur wheat is also available in the international foods section, near the hummus and falafel mixes since it’s an essential ingredient in a variety of regional Middle Eastern foods. It is also one of the key ingredients in the dishes of many Middle Eastern restaurants.
The Key to Achieving Perfectly Caramelized Onions
Mjadara Hamra gets its dark golden brown color from the caramelized onions. When you caramelize onions with vegetable oil, you need to be patient and not to fry on the hottest setting.
The key to caramelizing onions is to use a large pan. The wide base allows your onions to cook without crowding, so the water released as they soften evaporates. If this does not happen, the onions will steam rather than caramelize, and you won’t have crispy onions.
Another trick is to slice the onions into thin strips (half a centimeter) and cook for 10-15 minutes on medium-high heat. Then, reduce to low heat for the remaining cook time, and mix around every few minutes.
Reddened Lentils and Bulgur for the Soul
Frequently Asked Questions
You can serve it with pita bread, tomato wedges, sliced onions, radishes, and pickles, or with a green salad or Fattoush, and you’ll have a thoroughly satisfying meal.
It is not recommended because the outcome will be completely different. Other types of mujadara, such as mjadara safra, use different colored lentils (yellow variety).
Mujadara is pronounced mu-jad-dara in English. Mujadara can be spelled mjadara, mejadara, madadarah, or moujadara depending on which dialect of Arabic you speak.
Lentils don’t require soaking in some water cups. Rinse lentils in cold water before cooking, and then pick over to remove any debris or shriveled lentils.
The major difference between cracked wheat and bulgur is that bulgur is parboiled during the processing. As a result, it cooks quickly and stays fresh for a long time.
YES! You can place it in an air tight container and freeze it. Once ready to eat, allow it to defrost for about 15 minutes, reheat it in a pot on medium heat with about 3 tablespoons of water until warm. You can also heat it in the microwave. It lasts in the freezer for about one month.
It is important to cook your favorite lentil dish correctly. Lentils vary in cooking times depending on the type of lentil you use.
Mjadara hamra is traditionally made with brown lentils, but you can also cook it with green lentils.
It’s preferable to use red onions when making “Mujadara Hamra.”
Caramelizing the onions to a dark golden color is an important step because it gives the dish a full flavor, a little like that of a crispy onion ring. Just make sure not to burn them.
It’s better to serve Mujadara warm, but you can eat it cold.
Use a thick bottom pot; a thin pot will burn the bottom and turn the mjadara mushy.
Ingredients for Mjadara Hamra
Lentils: Among all lentil varieties, brown lentils are perfect for this recipe. So the next time you decide to make this dish, choose this specific lentil type.
Onions: You can use either white or red onions, but you have to cube them all, medium onion.
Oil: In this recipe, you need some tablespoons of vegetable oil. It can be canola oil or peanut oil.
Burghul: When burghul alongside lentil is cooked on medium heat according to the given total time, the result is a great success. If burghul is unavailable, you can replace it with quinoa.
Water: You need some cups water in this lentil recipe.
Seasonings: It is optional to add 7 spices or otherwise black pepper.
Salt: Some little sea salt is necessary to taste.
Olive Oil: It is another key ingredient that elevates the taste.
(Scroll down for recipe details.)
More Recipes You Must Try
- Pea and Carrot Stew (Bazella W Roz)
- Lebanese Lentils and Rice Recipe (Mujadaret Roz)
- Durum Wheat Chicken Soup Frikeh
- The Best Chicken Healing Soup
- Carrot and Sweet Potato Thai Soup
- Red Lentil Soup
- Freekeh with Beef Shanks
- Lemon Mint Garlic Chicken Stew
- The Best American Beef Goulash
- Cauliflower Tahini Bake
Mjadara Hamra (Reddened Lentils and Bulgur)
- 2 (14 ounce) bags brown lentils
- 8 white or red onions cubed
- 4-5 cups canola oil or peanut oil
- ½ cup coarse bulgur or quinoa
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon 7 spices
- ½ tablespoon salt to taste
- ½ cup olive oil
- Wash and drain the lentils, and then boil them for 10 minutes on high heat.
- Dice about 8-10 medium-sized onions
- In a large pot, add 4 cups canola oil, the cubed onions on high heat. ( You will eventually drain all this oil and toss out).
- Fry on high heat until the onions and oil are very dark in color, stirring occasionally. It takes about 30-40 minutes for the onions to turn dark brown in color.
- Once onions are crispy and dark in color, drain from the oil
- Place the onions back into the pot and the cooked lentils, ½ cup olive oil, bulgur, salt, 7 spices, water and mix.
- Bring the water to a boil and cover the pot. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the water has completely evaporated.
- Let the cooked lentils rest for 10 minutes before you gently fluff and serve.
- Serve with your favorite raw veggies, salad, yogurt, radish, or pickles.
- It is important to cook the lentils correctly. Lentils vary in cooking time depending on the type of lentil you use.
- Mjadara hamra is traditionally made with brown lentils, but it can also be made with green lentils.
- It’s preferable that you use red onions when making “Mujadara Hamra.”
- Caramelizing the onions to a dark golden color is an important step because it gives the dish a full flavor. Just make sure not to burn them.
- Mujadara is best served warm, but it can be eaten cold.
- Use a thick bottom pot; a thin pot will burn the bottom and turn the mjadara mushy.
Such a delicious way to use red lentils as an ingredient – I can’t wait to give this a try!
Excellent recipe and a taste of childhood. Thank you! Will make again and again❤
This is an all time childhood recipe for many! Happy you enjoyed it 🙂
I’ve been married for 10 years and never tried to make mujadara because i always thought it’s very difficult and takes time. After i read your recipe i was encouraged and tried it a couple of days ago. I was really amazed by the result! Thank you for the detailed steps.
Mission accomplished!!! 🙂
Love this mjaddara recipe. Perfect for meatless days with fattoush salad. Yummy
This is excellent! Thank you so much for your detailed recipe. I cannot wait to make it again. This will be added to our regular rotation. Served it with salad. Delicious!!!
This has to be one life saving eggplant hack 🙂 You’re welcome!
Made this and turned out amazing. It was mich easier than i had expected!!
You should specify what size burghul to use there are 3 sizes
You are right! I adjusted that! Thanks you so much for the heads up 🙂