By Kathy Przywara
My family eats a lot of rice and lentils and loves spices! So, when I learned about the Middle Eastern dish mujadara, I had to try it. It quickly became a family favorite for “Meatless Monday,” especially with my son. He even learned to make this for his vegetarian friends at college. This is flavorful and tangy with lemon and warm spices.
This delicious and filling vegan meal is easy to make in a rice cooker or Instant Pot. If you don't have either, you can make it in a pot on the stove. Make the crispy onions and spiced, milk-free “yogurt” topping while the rice and lentils cook.
- 2 cups long grain rice, such as basmati
- 1 cup lentils, preferably French green or black beluga
- 4 cups water
- 2-3 inch piece lemon peel
- 1 inch cinnamon stick (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 3 cups water
- Parsley, chopped (optional)
- 1 large onion cut into thin slices
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Spiced “Yogurt” Sauce
- 1 cup milk-free yogurt alternative or kefir
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/8 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground red pepper, such as Aleppo
- 1/4 tsp salt
Place rice in the rice cooker, Instant Pot bowl, or saucepan. Rinse rice and cover with water. Soak for 2 hours. Drain the rice into a colander.
Add lentils and 4 cups water into the rice cooker, Instant Pot bowl, or saucepan.
Rice cooker: Set to “quick” cycle. Cook for 15 minutes once it starts to boil.
Instant Pot: Select the “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” button (depending on the model you have) and cook lentils for 10 minutes. When done, perform a quick release.
Stovetop: Cook for 15 minutes once it starts to boil.
Drain in the colander with the drained rice. The lentils will not be fully cooked.
Rinse out rice cooker, Instant Pot bowl, or saucepan. Return soaked rice and cooked lentils to the cooker. Add 3 cups of water and the spices.
Rice cooker: Set rice cooker for “quick” cycle. The rice cooker will automatically switch to off or “keep warm” once all the liquid is absorbed.
Instant Pot: Select the “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” button for 6 minutes.
Stovetop: Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
While rice and lentils are cooking, prepare spiced “yogurt” sauce and crispy onions. See below.
Rice cooker: Once the rice cooker switches to “keep warm,” allow to steam for 10 minutes.
Instant Pot: Allow 10 minutes for a natural pressure release, then do a quick release.
Stovetop: Remove from heat and allow to steam covered for 10 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and lemon peel. Fluff with a fork or rice paddle. Serve with crispy onions, spiced “yogurt” sauce, and chopped parsley.
Spiced “Yogurt” Sauce
Mix together yogurt, lemon juice, and spices. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Sprinkle with extra red pepper if desired.
Heat olive oil in a wide, heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions and sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are crispy and very browned. These should be rather crispy and darker than typical caramelized onions. Make sure the onions don't start to burn. Reduce heat if needed.
Crispy onions can be made in the Instant Pot on sauté mode before cooking lentils. Fry onions, then set aside while lentils and rice are cooking. Reheat before serving if needed.
Kathy Przywara is the Senior Director of Community and Recipes Coordinator for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). She is known as “KathyP” on our forums and has contributed dozens of recipes to our Safe Eats® recipe collection.
She manages food allergies, asthma, and nasal allergies. She is a passionate advocate for education and support for people managing food allergies, asthma, and other allergic diseases.
Kids With Food Allergies is the food allergy division of AAFA.