Mdardara is our favourite Lebanese rice and lentil pilaf recipe.
Versions of Mdardara are served throughout the Arab world in countries like Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel.
Our traditionalMdardara recipe is quick and easy to make from scratch and features simple and affordable ingredients.
Our vegan and vegetarian Lebanese Caramelized Onion Lentil Rice is often served as a side dish with dips, salads, barbecue grilled meats and fresh seafood.
This healthy Mdardara recipe features flavourful ingredients like olive oil, onions, lentils, rice, cinnamon, and fresh mint.
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What Is Mdardara?
Mdardara, also known as mjaddara,mujaddara and moudardara, is a Middle Eastern lentil and rice pilaf.
You can use green or brown lentils, and any long-grain white rice to prepare homemade mdardara.
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Travel to the Middle East by Cooking Mdardara at Home
I love traveling to the Middle East and North Africa.
As a professional food and travel journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy amazing meals in the Middle East, from authentic markets to award winning restaurants.
For over ten years, I’ve been on the hunt for the best Mdardara recipe via adventures that had me zig-zagging through Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Dubai. You guessed it! Some of my fondest food memories while traveling in the Middle East include fragrant feasts featuring Lentil Rice Pilaf topped with sweet caramelized onions.
I ateMdardara at a traditional Moroccan riad, on food tours of Istanbul and Bodrum, accompanied by Egyptian tea on a Nile Cruise and in bustling market in Cairo, late night snack in Amman, al fresco market lunch in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and accompanied by fresh salads and soup at a massive Middle Eastern barbecue in the middle of the Dubai desert while belly dancers twirled under the night sky.
Where To Eat Authentic Lebanese Mdardara
Haven’t traveled to the Middle East before? It may be helpful to first sampleMdardara at a local Lebanese restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You’ll get an idea for the desired rice to lentil ratio, ideal sweetness and crispy texture of the caramelized onions and complimentary dips, salads and main dishes to serve at the table.
My Family Loves Healthy Mdardara
When my family moved to Oakville the first restaurant we visited was a local Egyptian and Lebanese restaurant called Agabi. Ranked as one of the best restaurants in Oakville, Agabi, became our family’s go-to Middle Eastern take out joint.
After falling in love with Middle Eastern food at home, we enjoyed vacations to the region, feasting on endless bowls of hummus, falafel andMdardara.
Our homemadeMdardara recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
Olive Oil is ranked as one of the healthiest fats and is a staple in the Mediterranean diet. It contains vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants.
Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of onions can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
All types of lentils are rich in cholesterol-lowering fibre. They are also a low-fat source of iron, vital for the cardiovascular system and for energy, and contain B vitamins that protect against heart disease.
Nearly 50% of the people in the world get over 50% of their daily calories from rice. If eating brown rice featuring nutritious bran you’ll enjoy health benefits like cancer risk reduction and diabetes control.
Rich in energy-boosting manganese, cinnamon is also antibacterial and may protect your brain against Alzheimer’s disease.
Fresh mint is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and can have a calming effect on the digestive system. It is also a good source of folate, which supports blood health.
Mdardara Recipe Cooking Tips
If it’s your first time cookingMdardara at home be sure to review our detailed step-by-step recipe below. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to get you started:
- Use a nonstick skillet to fry the caramelized onions.
- Use a large Dutch Oven with a lid to cook the rice and lentils until tender.
- We’ve used a mixture of Spanish cooking onions and white onions in this recipe but you can also use sweet Vidalia onions.
- We’ve used brown lentils in this recipe but you can substitute for green lentils.
- We’ve used basmati rice in this recipe but you can substitute for any long-grain rice variety.
- We’ve garnished the pilaf with fresh mint but can you substitue with parsley or toasted pine nuts.
- This recipe is vegan and vegetarian friendly but if you don’t have food restrictions feel free to use butter when frying the caramelized onions.
What To Serve with Lebanese Lentil Rice
We love to cook this easy Lebanese rice and lentil pilaf at Middle Eastern dinner parties. It’s a popular side dish since it’s vegan and vegetarian friendly.
You can simply serve the pilaf with your favourite fresh salads, soups or dips as a light lunch. If you’re a meat and seafood lover it’s a perfect side dish to serve with barbecued meat and grilled seafood.
If you’re hosting a large Middle Eastern-theme buffet or potluck serve Mdardara alongside:
- Mahalabia Rose and Pistachio Pudding
- Moghrabieh Chickpea Chicken Couscous
- Mutabbal Eggplant Dip
- Romaine Salad With Tahini Caesar Dressing
- Vegetarian Middle Eastern Spiced Pea Fritters
- Palestinian Chicken Musakhan
- Sweet Lebanese Sesame Tahini Rolls
- Mihlama Kuymak Cheese and Cornmeal Dip
- Za’atar Butter Bean Dip
- Lebanese Kibbeh Fried Beef Croquette
- Vegetarian Lebanese Eggplant Fatteh
- Shish Barak Lamb Dumplings
- Adas Bil Hamod Lebanese Lentil Soup
You May Also Enjoy These Rice Recipes…
- Adas Polo Persian Lentil Rice Recipe
- Spicy Thai Basil Fried Rice
- Vegan Curry Leaf Rice with Cashews
- Sartu Di Riso Italian Baked Risotto
- Khao Pad Sapparod Thai Pineapple Shrimp Fried Rice
- Vegetarian Gorgonzola Risotto al Radicchio
- Crispy Roast Chicken and Leek Risotto
- Vegan One Pot Indian Thakkali Tomato Biryani
- Spicy Gukbap Korean Rice & Beef Soup
- Turkish Mint Yogurt Corbasi Soup
- Romanian Soup Ciorba de Perisoare
- Spicy Pork Bibimbap Recipe
How To Make Lebanese Mdardara Recipe
Mdardara Lebanese Lentil Rice
- 6 tbsp Olive Oil divided
- 2 Spanish Onions chopped
- 1 Large White Onion thinly sliced
- 200 g Brown Lentils rinsed
- 120 g Basmati Rice rinsed
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Pinch Ground Cinnamon
- 1 tsp White Sugar
- Fresh Mint garnish
- Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a pan over medium high heat. When it is hot but not smoking, add the chopped onions and saute them, stirring frequently, until golden brown, approximately 3 minutes. Add the lentils, rice, 1 litre of water and the salt. Bring to boil, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Halfway through season with pepper and cinnamon. When fully cooked transfer to a serving plate.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and add the sliced onions. Saute over medium high heat for a few minutes, then reduce the heat and continue to cook until the onions are golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Halfway through cooking sprinkle with sugar. Gently separate the the onions and sprinkle over the Mdardara.
- Serve warm or at room temperature garnished with fresh mint.
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