Delicious Lentil Stew Recipe: A Nutritious Meal!

Welcome to my kitchen! I’m excited to share with you one of my all-time favorite Lebanese dishes: Mdardara, also known as lentil and rice pilaf. This flavorful and hearty dish is a staple in my home and always receives rave reviews from both vegans and non-vegans alike.

The recipe dates back centuries and has been passed down through generations in Lebanese families. As a proud Israeli chef, I’ve had the honor of learning this dish from my Lebanese friends, and it has become one of the most beloved recipes in my collection.

What makes Mdardara so special? The combination of nutty brown rice and tender, protein-packed lentils creates a wholesome, satisfying meal that leaves you feeling full and energized for hours. But it’s the crispy caramelized onions that take this dish to new heights, adding a sweet crunch that perfectly complements the savory blend of spices.

Not only is this dish delicious, but it’s also incredibly easy to make. With just a few simple ingredients and easy-to-follow steps, you’ll have a warm and comforting bowl of Mdardara ready in no time. So, whether you’re looking for a vegan option to add to your Middle Eastern cuisine repertoire or simply want to try something new, I encourage you to give this recipe a try. Trust me; your taste buds will thank you!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Mdardara (lentil and Rice Pilaf)
Mdardara (lentil and Rice Pilaf)

Welcome to Mdardara! This lentil and rice pilaf dish is a staple in Lebanese cuisine, loved for its rich flavor, hearty texture, and versatility. As a chef with a passion for Middle Eastern cuisine, I’m excited to share this recipe with you.

First and foremost, Mdardara is a comforting, satisfying dish that you can enjoy any time of the year. The combination of lentils and rice provides a complete protein and complex carbohydrates that will give you the energy and sustenance you need to power through your day. Plus, the rice creates an irresistible fluffy texture that contrasts perfectly with the tender lentils.

But what truly sets Mdardara apart is its deep, caramelized onion topping. When cooked low and slow, onions transform into crispy, sweet ribbons that add an addictive umami flavor to the dish. I believe that caramelized onions are the single most important ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine because they add depth and richness to everything they touch.

Another wonderful aspect of this dish is its versatility. You can serve Mdaradara as a main course or a side dish – it’s ideal for meal prep, potlucks, family dinners or lunchboxes! You can also customize it by adding your favorite vegetable(s) such as mushroom or chopped up green beans into the mix!

Finally, if you’re vegan – this recipe is perfect for you! The ingredients are simple but flavorful enough to satisfy even the mightiest of carnivorous appetites. And if you’re not vegan? Don’t worry – the aromatic flavors are so potent that any meat lover would gladly welcome a bowl of Mdardara onto their table.

Overall, Mdardara’s taste beirut is something that cannot be missed. It’s easy to make and perfect for those seeking comfort food that won’t weigh them down. I invite you to try this amazing recipe yourself and experience why one bowl of Mdardara isn’t enough!

Ingredient List

 Simplicity is the key to the heart of this humble lentil and rice dish
Simplicity is the key to the heart of this humble lentil and rice dish

Here’s what you’ll need to make this delicious Mdardara (Lentil and Rice Pilaf) dish:

  • 1 cup of long-grain rice
  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced for caramelized onions
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil

This vegan Lebanese dish also known as Lentils and Rice Pilaf or Mujadara, calls for basic pantry ingredients that most people have on hand. The key ingredient is caramelized onions, which add a sweet and savory depth to the dish. You can use green lentils in place of red lentils if preferred.

The Recipe How-To

 Golden fried onions add a hint of sweetness to the Mdardara's savory notes
Golden fried onions add a hint of sweetness to the Mdardara’s savory notes

Now that you know what “Mdardara” is and why you’ll love it, let’s get into how to cook it. This recipe doesn’t require any fancy equipment or advanced cooking techniques, and the result is absolutely delicious. Here are the steps you need to follow:


  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt


  1. Rinse the rice and lentils with cold water until the water runs clear.
  2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the sliced onions and a pinch of salt to the pot and stir to coat them with olive oil.
  4. Cook the onions for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are soft and caramelized.
  5. Remove about half of the onions from the pot and set them aside for garnish later.
  6. Add the rice and lentils to the pot with remaining onions, stirring to coat them with oil.
  7. Add the water and bring everything to a boil.
  8. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and let everything simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and both the rice and lentils are fully cooked.
  9. Turn off the heat and let everything rest for 10 minutes before removing the lid.
  10. Fluff up the rice and lentils with a fork, taste for salt, and adjust accordingly.
  11. Serve hot or warm, topped with crispy caramelized onions.

Cooking Tips

  • You can use green lentils instead of red lentils if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Some people like to add spices like cumin or cinnamon at step no. 6 for extra flavor.

Safety Instructions

  • Always use caution when working with hot oil or boiling water.


There you have it – my recipe for comforting Lebanese-style Mdardara (Lentil and Rice Pilaf). It’s simple yet packed with layers of flavors – crispy caramelized onions on top, followed by a fragrant base of tender long-grain rice mixed in with protein-packed red lentils. It’s also vegan-friendly! I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do!

Substitutions and Variations

 A spoonful of tangy yogurt complements the dish's earthy flavors
A spoonful of tangy yogurt complements the dish’s earthy flavors

If you’re looking to mix things up a bit, or perhaps lack a particular ingredient, then fear not! Pilaf is often quite forgiving when it comes to recipe substitutions and variations. The following substitutions and additions will give your dish new and exciting dimensions of flavor:

– Rice: You can swap out the white rice for brown or basmati rice. Keep in mind that long-grain rice will still provide the best texture.

– Lentils: Red and green lentils are the most commonly used for this dish but you can try substituting with other types such as black or beluga lentils.

– Onions: Replace the onions with shallots for a more subtle flavor. If you are short on onions, try tossing in some garlic instead.

– Olive Oil: You can use sunflower, vegetable or avocado oil instead of olive oil if preferred.

– Caramelized Onions: If caramelizing onions sounds intimidating, you can use crispy fried onions (e.g., from a can) or sauté fresh onions until their edges get crispy to mimic caramelized onions.

If you’re feeling adventurous, there are a few additional swaps and variations that take inspiration from other Lebanese dishes:

– Tomato Rice Pilaf (Mujadara Safra): Add diced tomatoes to the rice and lentil mix before cooking to add an extra layer of flavor complexity.

– Salatet Mdardara: For a refreshing twist on your mdardara, serve it atop a bed of cabbage salad dressed in lemon juice and olive oil.

– Lentil Soup: For a more soup-like consistency, add more water or broth to your lentil rice pilaf recipe.

Serve these variations with tomato salad, a side of cabbage, lentil soup or any beloved dish common in the Middle Eastern diet. Don’t worry about straying too far from tradition – if it’s delicious to you, then that’s all that matters!

Serving and Pairing

 The aroma of cumin and coriander wafting from the pot will make your taste buds dance
The aroma of cumin and coriander wafting from the pot will make your taste buds dance

When you serve mdardara, it’s all about complementing the flavors and textures of the dish. This lentil and rice pilaf can be enjoyed on its own as a vegetarian main course or served alongside additional Middle Eastern-inspired dishes for a perfect meal.

A great way to enjoy mdardara is by topping it with crispy caramelized onions, which adds a new dimension of flavor and texture to the dish. You could also serve it with a side of tomato salad or lentil soup to bring out the flavors of this Lebanese favorite.

Another idea to try when serving mdardara is pairing it with brown rice or green lentils. That way, you can create a protein-rich dish that will keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer. Additionally, cabbage salad provides an excellent side dish option since it complements the earthy flavors of lentils.

If you’re looking for other dishes that pair well with mdardara, look no further than mujadara. Known as the king of Lebanese comfort food, this dish is made with caramelized onions and topped with crispy onions as well. Serving both mujadara and mdardara will give you an authentic taste of Lebanon that will transport your taste buds to the Middle East.

In essence, you could welcome a bowl of mdardara any time! Its simplicity makes it easy to pair with various foods, once again proving that when given simple ingredients like rice, lentils, and onions, something magical can come out of it.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Topped with caramelized onions, this dish is a feast for the eyes and palate
Topped with caramelized onions, this dish is a feast for the eyes and palate

One of the great things about this lentil and rice pilaf recipe is that it’s easy to make ahead of time. You can prepare the caramelized onions, lentils, and rice in advance and store them separately in airtight containers for up to 3 days.

When you’re ready to enjoy this dish, simply reheat the lentils and rice in separate pots with some water, broth or olive oil until they are heated through. Then mix them together and reheat the combined dish if needed.

You can also freeze this dish for future meals. After cooking and combining the lentils and rice, let them cool completely before transferring them to freezer-safe containers. This lentil rice pilaf will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 2 months.

To reheat frozen lentil and rice pilaf, let it defrost overnight in the fridge, then reheat it on low heat with some water or broth in a covered pot until it’s warmed through.

When serving leftovers or reheated mdardara, you may want to add an extra drizzle of olive oil or vegetable broth to keep everything moist and flavorful.

One thing to keep in mind when reheating is that the caramelized onions may lose some of their crispiness. But don’t worry—this won’t affect the delicious taste of mdardara as a whole.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Cooked to perfection, the lentils and rice retain their individual textures, while coalescing in flavor
Cooked to perfection, the lentils and rice retain their individual textures, while coalescing in flavor

Making Mdardara may sound easy, but there are some tips and tricks to ensure that you get the most out of this Lebanese staple.

First, always check that you have enough water to cook the rice and lentils properly. The ratio of water to rice and lentils should be 3 to 1, so for every one cup of rice and lentils, add three cups of water. This will create a deliciously soft texture, while still retaining the right level of chewiness.

Secondly, use long grain rice for this recipe rather than short or medium-grained varieties. The long-grain rice holds its shape better and separates easily when cooked. It also gives the dish a lovely nutty flavor which complements the earthiness of the lentils.

Thirdly, remember to let your onions caramelize until they’re perfectly golden brown before adding them into the mdardara. Caramelized onions give the dish that sweet, rich flavor and depth that is characteristic of this traditional Lebanese dish.

Fourthly, try topping off your Mdardara with crispy caramelized onions fried in olive oil. This simple addition takes it to a whole new level with a delightful textural contrast between toasty and crunchy.

Lastly, let your Mdardara sit for at least 10 minutes after cooking. This allows any excess moisture to absorb properly and for the flavors to come together fully.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to make perfect Mdardara each time – a savory yet wholesome Lebanese meal that warms both heart and belly!


Now that you know all the details of how to make my mdardara (lentil and rice pilaf) recipe, let’s address some frequently asked questions. In this section, I will tackle your concerns about making substitutions, storing, reheating, and alternatives to the dish. Let me help you get the perfect result in every situation with these tips and recommendations.

What is mdardara in english?

Mdardara is a pilaf dish originating from the Middle East and is commonly known as mjaddara, moudardara, or mujaddara. It’s a vegan and vegetarian side dish with a slightly sweet flavor made of lentils and rice. The dish is usually topped with caramelized onions, and green or brown lentils can be used to make it. Any type of long-grain white rice can also be utilized in preparing this homemade dish.

Is Mujadara a good source of protein?

Not only is this dish incredibly healthy with its high amounts of protein and dietary fiber, but it’s also a great source of various essential nutrients that can help prevent chronic disease. With an abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, this dish is the perfect addition to a well-rounded and balanced diet. Plus, it’s low in saturated fats which further supports a healthy lifestyle.

Why are lentils and rice good together?

Combining lentils and whole grain rice in a meal provides a well-rounded fiber intake since lentils contain mainly insoluble fiber, while whole grain rice contains mostly soluble fiber. The soluble fiber acts like a gel in the stomach, aiding in lowering cholesterol and maintaining consistent blood sugar levels.

What makes rice pilaf different?

When it comes to cooking rice, there are two distinct methods: one for plain rice and another for rice pilaf. Regular rice is boiled in water without any additional ingredients, whereas rice pilaf is first sautéed with aromatic spices and then simmered in broth to infuse the rice with a rich and flavorful taste. This results in a textured and well-defined rice that is full of taste.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, mdardara (lentil and rice pilaf) is a simple, yet delicious dish that will leave you feeling satisfied and nourished. From caramelized onions to the fluffy and aromatic rice, every bite of this vegan Lebanese meal will take your taste buds on a culinary adventure. With its versatility in pairing, it works great with tomato salad or even a lentil soup.

By following these detailed instructions and tips, you can prepare an authentic dish that tastes like it was made by a seasoned Lebanese chef. So why not skip the takeout and make your own mdardara tonight? You’ll be amazed at the flavors you can create without spending hours in the kitchen.

I hope this recipe article has been helpful to you as you embark on your mdardara journey. Don’t forget to experiment with substitutions and variations to make it your own. And if you have any more questions or concerns, feel free to refer to our FAQ section or leave a comment below.

Cooking is not just about filling our stomachs. It’s about indulging our senses and connecting with others through shared meals. So grab a bowl of mdardara and welcome yourself to the vibrant world of Lebanese cuisine.

Mdardara (lentil and Rice Pilaf)

Mdardara (lentil and Rice Pilaf) Recipe

My stepmother is a North Lebanon native, and her version of this is a secret, but this recipe is just as good. It's nice and hearty, and good for toddlers and babies. Pureed, it's called Mjaddara, and the onions are still tender, and mixed in. From the Sahtain cookbook.
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Main Course
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Calories 327 kcal


  • 1 cup red lentil, washed and drained (or brown)
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 5 cups water
  • salt and pepper


  • Soak rice in hot water (not the 5 cups above--separate water) for 15 minutes, drain.
  • Stir fry onions in oil until golden brown, set aside to crisp and drain.
  • In the same pot, reserve 1 tbsp of the oil add water and lentils, and boil until lentils are tender, but still a little firm.
  • Add the rice, salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a boil again.
  • Lower the heat and simmer until the water is absorbed.
  • Serve hot or cold.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 321gCalories: 327kcalCarbohydrates: 49.4gProtein: 10.7gFat: 9.9gSaturated Fat: 1.4gSodium: 10.7mgFiber: 4.8gSugar: 2.1g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Beans, Beginner Cook, Easy, European, Healthy, Kid-Friendly, Lentils, Long-Grain Rice, Low Cholesterol, Rice, Toddler-Friendly, Vegan
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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