Arabic Language Blog

How to cook Moujadara (mashed lentils and rice casserole) Posted by on Feb 27, 2013 in Arabic Language, Culture

Marhaba (مرحبا)! Today, I am going to teach you how to cook Moujadara (مجدرة) which is a tasty vegetarian dish (طبق نباتي) that is popular in the Middle East and specifically the Levant. It is a popular vegetarian dish throughout the year and especially during Lent. In a nutshell, Moujadara is mashed lentils (عدس) and rice casserole (الأرز خزفي). It is usually considered a humble dish (طبق المتواضع) and there is a saying (قول) in the Arab world (العالم العربي) that depicts the importance of this dish in impoverished (الفقيرة) circles: “A hungry man would be willing to sell his soul for a dish of moujadara.” (الرجل الجائع يكون على استعداد لبيع روحه لطبق من مجدرة) It has been popular since Biblical times and the custom of serving and preparing this dish has accompanied the waves of Arab immigrants (المهاجرين) to different parts of the world, like North and South America. In certain cultures many individuals have crafted their own version of Moujadara by adding different types of spices (توابل/بهارات) and lentils.

I am sharing the recipe that my wife and I use to cook this popular dish from a popular cooking book called The Lebanese Kitchen: Quick and Healthy Recipes by Monique Bassila Zaarour, a Canadian registered dietitian (اخصائي تغذية) with Lebanese roots (جذور لبنانية). I have also added a YouTube video in Arabic that shows you how to cook this tasty dish. According to Zaarour and out of our personal experience, this recipe makes around four servings. In practice it does not require a lot of preparation and only requires around 15 minutes. Also, the cooking time is around 40 minutes. So all in all, you will have a full vegetarian dish in less than an hour! Keep in mind that you should be using cooked lentils for this recipe. If however, the lentils were uncooked, you need to cook around ¾ cup. It is optimal to mash the lentils with their skin after they are cooked, because they are rich in minerals (المعادن), vitamins (الفيتامينات) and fiber (ليف نباتي).



–       1 tablespoon vegetable oil (زيت النباتية)

–       1 medium onion (بصل), finely chopped (مفرومة ناعما)

–       ¼ cup short – grain rice, soaked (منقوع) in water for ½ hour

–       2 cups water

–       2 cups cooked lentils

–       ½ teaspoon all spice



–       In a larger pot (وعاء كبير), heat oil, add onions and stir-fry until lightly browned.

–       Add drained rice and 1 cup of the water.

–       Bring to a boil.

–       Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring remaining water to a boil.

–       Add lentils; cook over medium heat until tender (ناعم).

–       Mash the mixture in a food processor.

–       Add to rice with seasonings.

–       Cook over low heat, stirring constantly.

–       Remove from heat as soon as boiling starts.

–       Pour immediately into the serving plate, allow to cool and serve cold with fresh vegetables and salad (سلطة).


This is the exact recipe (وصفة) that I borrowed from Zaarour; however, my wife and I do two additional things. First, in addition to serving it with salad or fresh vegetables, we like eating Moujadara with pita bread (Syrian/Lebanese type) (الخبز اللبناني ). Second, we sometimes serve Moujadara with caramelized onion rings (حلقات البصل). We simply cut a large onion into very thin rounds and then add them to small saucepan with heated canola oil. We keep on frying the onion rings till they become golden brown. We then place these onion rings on top of the Moujadara.

I encourage and invite you all to give it a try and let me know how it goes.



Stay tuned for upcoming posts.

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About the Author: jesa

Salam everyone! Born as an American to two originally Arab parents, I have been raised and have spent most of my life in Beirut, Lebanon. I have lived my good times and my bad times in Beirut. I was but a young child when I had to learn to share my toys and food with others as we hid from bombs and fighting during the Lebanese Civil War. I feel my connection to Arabic as both a language and culture is severing and so it is with you, my readers and fellow Arabic lovers, and through you that I wish to reestablish this connection by creating one for you.