Bulgur Mujadara, also called Mujadara Hamra, is a traditional Middle Eastern dish that is both hearty and healthy. It’s a simple yet flavorful recipe that combines lentils, bulgur (cracked wheat), onions, and a variety of spices that make this dish irresistible.
The star of the show is really the onion, though. Deeply caramelized and cooked two ways: some go in with the lentils and bulgur and get cozy… others get crisped into nice little strands for a bold topping.
Ahhh, the oh-so delightful smell of onions sizzling in a pan – who doesn’t love it?! Get your taste buds tingling with this comforting and flavorful scent wafting through your home.
To make this recipe, you’ll need a few essential ingredients that can easily be found at your local grocery store.
- Green lentils add an earthy depth and protein to the dish. They hold their shape well after cooking. Substitutes could be brown lentils or black lentils. Just make sure you do not overcook them, they shouldn’t be mushy. Red lentils would not work as they will fall apart.
- Coarse bulgur acts as a filling grain that helps keep you full for longer. I do not recommend using fine bulgur as it doesn’t require cooking and the dish would become a giant clump.
- Extra virgin olive oil adds richness and healthy fats.
- Yellow onions provide sweetness and depth of flavor. Red onions may also be used.
- A blend of cumin, coriander, turmeric, allspice, and cinnamon brings together the flavors of this dish, creating a perfect fusion of Middle Eastern spices that make this recipe truly unique.
How to make bulgur mujadara
Warning: this is not a quick dish! It takes time for the onions to slowly cook and caramelize. Plus you’ll be washing a few dishes afterwards, as you will use 3 separate pans… Sorry. But you’ll see it’s totally worth it!
- In the first pan, you will parboil the lentils. This gives them a head start before they get combined with the other ingredients to finish cooking.
- In a second pan – I recommend a large frying pan – you will sauté some sliced onions in a bit of olive oil. These will be used as a flavor-bomb crispy topping.
- In the third pan – I find that a 5 quart sauté pan with a lid works well here – you will brown the chopped onions, then add liquid (water), bulgur and parboiled lentils, along with some flavorful spices.
The longest part of the process is to get the chopped onions nicely brown. And that is the secret to this otherwise very easy recipe. You need to maintain a medium high temperature and stir them often so that they caramelize but don’t burn. The picture below shows you the color you are aiming for. It takes about 40 minutes. And for God’s sake, keep an eye on them!
Once the onions are ready, you will only need another 15 minutes to have your bulgur mujadara table ready!
How to serve lentils & bulgur
Bulgur Mujadara is best served hot but can also be served at room temperature. You can add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top, a dollop of Greek yogurt, or a drizzle of tahini sauce. For a complete meal, add a side of salad like this Lebanese cabbage salad or a simple tomato and cucumber salad.
You can also eat a smaller portion as your grain side along with poultry or fish and non starchy vegetables as in this picture (shawarma chicken, bulgur mujadara, baba ghanoush, muhammara, tomato cucumber salad, cilantro tahini sauce)
This delightful meatless recipe is sure to please everyone – with its signature savory flavor and warm spices, you can’t go wrong. Now that your taste buds are tantalized and ready to dance, what are you waiting for? Get cooking and enjoy this comforting dish!
Other recipes to try:
Black Rice Pilaf with Butternut Squash
Bulgur mujadara (lentils and bulgur)
- 1 cup green lentils
- 1 cup coarse bulgur
- 4 cups water (divided)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (divided)
- 2 yellow onions diced (about 4 cups)
- 1 yellow onion sliced thin (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add chopped onions. Cook for 40 minutes, stirring frequently, until deeply browned.
- While the onions are browning, rinse lentils and place in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce and simmer 10 minutes. Drain.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil on medium high. Add sliced onion. Carefully adjust the heat up to create a nice sizzle, stirring constantly to make sure you don't burn the onion. Adjust the heat down if they seem to brown too fast. It should take about 15 minutes to get them crisped and browned. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel.
- Once the chopped onions have reached their deep brown color, add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil.
- Add lentils, bulgur, salt and spices. Cover and bring back to a boil.
- Lower the heat to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed and the bulgur and lentils are cooked. If the mixture looks too dry as it cooks, add a few tablespoons of water.
- Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve the lentil and bulgur mix topped with crispy onions.
I was surprised by this recipe and found it very tasty!