From Beirut to London in 100 Dishes

Moudardara — Green Lentils, Cumin and Rice



This is a poor man’s dish in Lebanon.  We have many types of lentils that are grown in the Bekaa valley.  They range in colour from green to reddish brown.


When I was a child, my grandmother used to make this dish for us with green lentils that grew in her village.  She used burghul — cracked wheat — rather than rice, though.  As a Beiruti, I know the dish as Moudardara, although it is also called Mujadara.  But I and other Beirutis would say that they are in fact two separate dishes, using different types of lentils in different quantities.  Both, however, are very healthy and simple to make — and good for vegetarians. (I have just checked this in an old Lebanese cookbook that is one of the few things I brought with me from Beirut when I moved to England.  It has long been a bible of recipes for me — and it gives two separate entries for moudardara and mujadara. )



200g of green lentils

4 glasses of water

2 large spoons of vegetable oil

2 medium size onions peeled and sliced

1/2 tea spoon of white sugar

200g of basmati rice washed

2 tea spoon of cumin

1/2 tea spoon of salt

1/2 tea spoon of black pepper


  • In a medium size pot wash the lentils, then add 4 glasses of fresh water, cover with the lid and put on the hob on high temperature to cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the lentils are slightly soft.
  • Make sure the water covers the lentils at all times, add hot water if necessary.
  • Meanwhile, in a non stick cooking pan put 2 large spoons of vegetable oil and fry the sliced onions until golden brown, add the sugar half way.
  • Once ready remove the onion to one side, add the rice to the pan then add the cooked lentils including the water, just enough to cover the rice.
  • Stir well, then add cumin, salt, black pepper, mix and cover the pot with the lid.
  • Once the water starts to boil, reduce temperature to minimum and leave to cook for 10 minutes.
  • Serve hot and garnish the rice with the caramelised onions.
  • Best with yogurt and dried mint or bowl of salad.


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