By: Bettina – Bolinas, CA

Today I worked on something I have been wanting to try for a LONG time.  Mujaddara!  As I am sure you have noticed by now, I love middle eastern spices.  Vegetables can be bland but if you use the right spices, it unlocks their essence and makes them magic.  Middle Eastern spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger… besides having amazing health benefits, just make everything taste like heaven.  I pretty much throw turmeric on everything because of it’s anti-inflammatory benefits.

My other big secret to finding time to cook is PREPPING!  I will repeat this till I die.  I had the lentils prepped from Sunday and the brown rice I made last night so this seemingly complicated dish took me all of 15 minutes to make.  It’s all in the prep work.  If I know I have a long conference call, I’ll set some brown rice to steam while I am on the call.  It makes cooking effortless if you have the food pre-cooked in your fridge.  Prep and menu plan!!

I adapted this recipe from …  I am not really into following recipes (except for baking, those I follow because baking is scientific).  But looking at different cookbooks and blogs for inspiration is great.  I love Food52!  I highly recommend you check out recipes and then adapt to what’s in your own pantry.  For example, if I use quinoa, you can substitute for a grain you have at home.  If I make a dish of sautéed chard, you can use kale if it’s what you have.  No carrots?  Use parsnips. Anything that’s similar really.  No coriander? Try cumin.  No white pepper, black is fine.  And if you’re going to try something at home and have a question:  I love hearing about your experiments!

Anyways here is my delicious version of mujaddara for two!

Serves 2

For the Mujaddara

  • 1 cup brown rice (soaked the night before)
  • 3/4 cups french lentils  (dark brown but can use any, these just keep their shape well)
  • 1 large red onions halved and  sliced thinly  (you can also use yellow or white onion, red is a little more sweet)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt to taste
For the yogurt with spices

  • 3 Tbsp  yogurt (I used quark cheese which has the same consistency)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon aleppo pepper (Aleppo is mild so use red pepper or paprika for more bite)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (mint would be delicious but I didn’t have any)
  • Juice and zest of half a lemon – the zest is key
  • dash of salt


  1. Add rice to 2 cups of boiling water, add salt, cover and lower heat to low.  Cook for 40 minutes.
  2. Put lentils, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1.5 cups water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer lentils until soft but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain lentils and set aside.
  3. While rice/ lentils cook, set a sauté pan over medium to low heat and add butter and 1 tablespoons olive oil. Add onions and stir to coat with the oil / butter mixture.
  4. Onions will soften after 5 minutes and get shiny. Raise heat to around medium and cook 10 to 12 minutes, until the onions are very soft and browned. I always have a cup of filtered water on hand so that if the pan gets too dry and vegetables start to stick, you can deglaze both the pan and unstick the veggies.
  5. Once onions have a good amount of browning, add another tablespoon of olive oil cook on high. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes, until bottom layer of onions is crisp.
  6. In a separate pan, add the cooked lentils, cooked rice and the garlic powder.  Add 3 Tbsps of water to the pan so it’s just barely simmering.
  7. Add onions, another couple of tablespoons of water and incorporate well.  Cover and leave on low heat for 10-15 minutes so the flavors blend well.  Bottom of pan will get a little crispy.
  8. While the dish is simmering, make the yogurt: grab a small bowl and mix all ingredients together.
  9. Scoop mujaddara onto a plate, sprinkle with fresh parsley and throw a dollop of the yogurt on top.  YUM!