Recipe: Mujaddara (Lentil & Bulgur Pilaf)

Serves 6

Generosity. When people give it freely you feel loved. Taken care of. Your spirit smiles from the inside out.

Your day is instantly better.

It’s one of the most splendid qualities a person can have.

In Jordan, as in many of the region’s countries, generosity to strangers is an honored mealtime practice. In times of plenty, the best part of the meal goes to the stranger. Even in poverty the last crumb goes to the hungry stranger.

Today we explore Mujaddara – a splendid vegan dish that will fill a large platter and then some. Perfect for practicing generosity.

Sometimes made with bulgur and sometimes with rice, Mujaddara is always made with lentils and caramelized onions. Get ready for fantastic twist on pilaf.

Recipe inspired by the post at



4 extra-large onions, sliced in half moons
1/2 cup olive oil

pine nuts & raisins (optional)

For the pilaf:

2 cups lentils
1 cup bulgur
5 cups water


Let’s make a loving gift from a simple meal.

In the spirit of generosity, head to the store and pick out four of the largest onions you can find. Softball sized is good. Slice them up and caramelize them in a large, wide pan with olive oil. Start over high heat and, as the onions begin to color and all the juices cook off, reduce the heat so they do not burn. This will take an hour or so (up to 90 minutes).  You can do less onions but the sweet, soft onion is the main flavoring of the pilaf, so I’d recommend you do the full amount.

Meanwhile, add lentils, bulgur, water, and seasoning to a medium pot and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer over low heat until tender (20-30 minutes). Add extra water, if necessary – although it probably won’t be (the pilaf should steam towards the end, just like rice). PS. Am I the only one who likes to run their fingers through bowls of dried grains and legumes?

While you’re waiting for the Mujaddara to cook, whet your appetite with a long walk along Rum Mountain.

Wadi Rum from the top of Rum mountain, Jordan. Photo by Ester Inbar.

When you return you’ll find a fluffy pilaf. All the water absorbed into the grains. Delicious.

Spoon onto a large platter into a giant mountainous mound.

Think of it as a beautiful gift to the world… no different from any other glory of nature.

… which only gets better when topped with an outrageous amount of sweet, caramelized onions.

Because life can never be too sweet.

It’s true.

I’ve tested the theory.

(Share most generously with as many people as you can muster.)

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  1. this looks fantastic! thanks.
    For health reasons we don’t eat meat, dairy or sweets so thankful to find new great recipes.

  2. Jessica Bennett says:

    Well, I really dislike onions as a main flavour, so I think I’d have trouble with this one, but of course I’d try it if I was at your table. If I made the dish myself, I’d leave them out and add a common Jordanian spice for extra flavour since I love lentils and this dish looks delicious.

  3. Sasha Martin says:

    Jill – I am so glad! It’s a very simple recipe, other than waiting for the onions to cook down. Enjoy!

    Jessica – Some people like to add cumin to the pilaf… but you could certainly add any number of spices and it will taste great (just like rice – plain or complex – it’s good any which way). This is real comfort food.

  4. Could you substitute one cup rice for the one cup bulgur and follow the recipe exactly, or does it have to be changed to accommodate the rice?

  5. Did you add the optional raisens and pine nuts? Did you toast the pine nuts? Love the flavor of onions, so this is definitely on the list of things to try.

  6. yummmmmmmmmmm

  7. Hi! Am I ever excited to find your blog!! I am cooking my way around the world, as well. I found the link to this on What’s Cooking in Your World? and it’s really amazing that we all have the same idea, but we go about it so differently. I’m getting ready to start my second year, I was only going to cook from 52 countries, but the lure of world cuisine pulled me back in, so I am going ahead and cooking from every country. I do this from my tiny RV galley/kitchen with a $20 per week budget. I’d love it if you visited my site Life in an RV I not only write about world cuisine, but full-time RV living and container gardening, too. I really have enjoyed browsing through your blog, it’s amazing!

  8. yummy ive got some mujadara leftover’s in my fridge that’s my dinner tonight.. btw mujadara should be accompanied with a fresh tomato salad, red onions, dried mint, and a simple dressing, salt lemon and olive oil…

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