When it comes to one of the most traditional lentil dishes, you should try making “Mujadara Hamra” at least once in your lifetime. Mujadara is a specialty of South Lebanon. It is inexpensive, healthy, 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 Mujadara 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 Mujadara Hamra?
Mujadara Hamra,” which translates to “Red Lentils,” is a signature dish from South Lebanon. Mujadara gets it’s dark brown color from the caramelization of onions. To give the lentils a nice texture, cracked wheat (bulgur) is traditionally added.
This dish is also known as “meat of the poor,” and it is frequently prepared by people of all social classes, owing to its nutritional value, which is comparable to that of meat. This dish can be served hot or cold, with a side of salad or cucumber and yogurt.
Brown Lentils: Traditionally, brown lentils are used in the 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 bulgur 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 a lot of onions for this recipe! You can use red or white onions; however, it’s preferable that you use red onions a when making “Mujadara Hamra.”
Mujadara Hamra Vs. Mujadaret Roz
Mujadara is served in a variety of ways and 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) is made with lentils and rice, and is topped with caramelized onions, which are an essential part of the dish.
On the other hand, “Mujaddara Hamra,” which translates as “Red Lentils,” is made by cooking lentils with a lot 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 a very good source of protein and fibers and deserve to be kept in your regular recipe rotation!
Why Should You Incorporate Lentils into Your Diet?
Lentils are loaded with B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. They are also a good source of plant-based protein and fiber.
Among lentils’ many beneficial properties are their polyphenols, which have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as well as the ability to inhibit cancer cell growth.
Lentils may also benefit your heart by promoting weight loss, preventing homocysteine buildup, and improving cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Lentils contain 25% protein, making them an excellent meat alternative.
They are also simple to prepare; they don’t even need to be soaked. Simply rinse them before cooking.
What is Bulgur Wheat?
Bulgur or burghul is made from cracked whole-grain wheat kernels that are parboiled and dried before packaging. Thus, they cook 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 can also found in the international foods section, near the hummus and falafel mixes, since it’s used in a variety of regional Middle Eastern foods. Burghul is also available online.
The Key to Achieving Perfectly Caramelized Onions
Mujadara gets its dark brown color from the caramelized onions. When you caramelize onions, you need to be patient and not to fry on the hottest setting.
The key to caramelizing onions is to use a large saucepan. 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 a few minutes on high medium heat, then reduce to low heat for the remainder and mix around every few minutes.
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 isn’t 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-jd-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. Rinse lentils in cold water before cooking, 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 process. As a result, it cooks quickly and stays fresh for a long time.
YES! I place it in an air tight container and freeze it. Once ready to eat, I allow it to defrost for about 15 minutes, reheat in a pot on medium heat with about 3 tablespoons of water until warm. You can also heat in the microwave. Lasts in freezer for about 1 month.
It is important to cook the lentils correctly. Lentils vary in cooking time depending on the type of lentil you use.
Mujadara hamra is traditionally made with brown lentils, but it can also be made with green lentils!
it’s preferable that you use red onions a 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, however can be eaten cold.
Use a thick bottom pot; a thin pot will burn the bottom and turn the mjadara mushy.
Ingredients for Mujadara Hamra
- brown lentils
- white or red onions; cubed
- canola oil/peanut oil
- burghul or quinoa
- 7 spices (optional)
- Salt (to taste)
- olive oil
How to Make Mujadara Hamra
First, wash and drain the lentils about 4 times, then soak brown lentils in hot water. You will notice that the lentils will soak up the hot water. Add more hot water to cover the lentils and allow them to soak again.
Then, dice about 8-10 medium sized onions into medium sized cubes.
In a large pot add the 4 cups canola oil and the cubed onions on high heat (We 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. Then stir frequently once onions begin to brown in color. This takes about 30-40 minutes.
Once onions are crispy and dark in color, drain the oil out (toss out oil).
Finally, to the onions in the pot add the soaked lentils, ½ cup olive oil, burghul OR quinoa, salt, 7 spices, water and mix. Allow water to come to a boil then simmer for about 20 minutes or until water has completely dried out. Enjoy with a salad, yogurt, radish, pickles, etc.
More Recipes You Must Try
Mujadara Hamra (Reddened Lentils and Bulgur)
- 2 bags brown lentils 14 oz
- 8-10 white or red onions cubed
- 4-5 cups canola oil or peanut oil
- ½ cup burghul or quinoa
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon 7 spices
- ½ tablespoon salt to taste
- ½ cup olive oil
- First, wash and drain the lentils about 4 times then soak brown lentils in hot water. You will notice that the lentils will soak up the hot water. Add more hot water to cover the lentils and allow them to soak again.
- Then, Dice about 8-10 medium sized onions into medium sized cubes.
- After that, in a large pot add the 4 cups canola oil and the cubed onions on high heat ( We 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 then stir frequently once onions begin to brown in color. Takes a good 30-40 minutes.
- Once onions are crispy and dark in color, drain the oil out (toss out oil).
- Finally, to the onions in the pot add the soaked lentils, ½ cup olive oil, burghul OR quinoa, salt, 7 spices, water and mix. Allow water to come to a boil then simmer for about 20 minutes or until water has completely dried out. Enjoy with a salad, yogurt, radish, pickles ect.