There are many legends and myths about this delicious dish in the recipe world. Two names can be found on the net and in cookbooks: Mujadara and Mudardara. Allegedly, both names are supposed to name this Levantine dish of rice, lentils and fried onions. But as you’ve probably already figured out, that’s not true. I’m happy to clear this up and introduce you to an incredibly delicious dish.
The difference between Mujadara and Mudardara
Lentils, rice, cumin and properly roasted onions. These are the similarities between mujadara and mudardara. The biggest difference between the two vegan dishes is the type of lentils and their consistency. For mujadara (you can find the recipe here), red lentils are used. These are simmered together with rice and spices until they really break down and become a puree. Then caramelised chopped onions are folded in.
For mudardara, on the other hand, green lentils are used, which are much firmer to the bite than the red ones. Here we don’t want to cook a puree, but a kind of pilaf – that is, a rice dish. The rice and lentils are prepared in such a way that they are loose and fluffy on the fork or spoon and do not stick together or become mushy. For mudardara, the onions are not just caramelised, but roasted really hot and allowed to colour properly. The roasted onions are then partly folded in and partly served as a topping.
By the way, the names here say a lot about the dishes and their preparation. Mujadara means freely translated: “mashed together”. Mudardara means “pocked” – meaning that the individual lentils remain in the dish and can be seen like “poxes”. I admit that is not a very charming way to name such a delicious dish. But that’s the way it is 🙂
Rice and lentils: A feast for the senses
I am always amazed at what a spectacle of flavours can be created from a handful of ingredients. Rice, lentils and onions: these are the main ingredients for mudardara. Then there is the best olive oil, cumin, cinnamon and coriander seeds. That’s really all there is to it. And the whole thing is quick, too! While the onions are roasting, you simply cook the lentils and then everything goes into a pot and cooks. Then just top with onions and you have an incredibly delicious, protein-rich and vegan delicacy. I recommend serving a fresh salad and/or (vegan) yoghurt with it. Alternatively, you can simply add a few squirts of lemon juice to your plate of mudardara. I definitely recommend fattoush as a side salad.
Recipe for Mudardara
- 1 TSP Salt
- 12 TBSP Olive oil
- 6 Onions approx. 500 g
- 200 g Green lentils
- Peel the onions, halve them and cut them into half rings.
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions with 1 tsp salt for approx. 10 – 15 minutes on a high heat. The onions should get a good colour and may darken. But be careful not to let them burn, otherwise they will become bitter.
- Lay out half of the fried onions on kitchen paper. Leave the other half in the pan with the oil to cool.
- While the onions are roasting: Boil the lentils with plenty of water in a pot for about 12 minutes until al dente. Then drain off the water.
- Wash the rice until the water runs clear. To do this, pour plenty of cold water over the rice, stir and pour off the milky water. Repeat until the water is reasonably clear.
- Put the rice with the spices and the cooked lentils in a pot and fill with the water. Bring everything to the boil briefly while stirring and then immediately turn the heat down to low. Cook the mudardara with the lid on for about 13 minutes.
- After 13 minutes, remove the lid and leave to steam for 2 minutes.
- Mix the onions from the pan with the oil into the mudardara. Serve the mudardara with the remaining fried onions as a topping.
- It goes well with a fresh salad and/or (vegan) yoghurt.