Mjeddrah – Lentils, Rice & Onions

I am in Vermont now, cross-county skiing with my daughter. But I want to share this with you, I made it a little while ago…

When I was in college, my housemate’s father was Lebanese and she would make a wonderful dish for us – mjeddrah. It was simple – rice, lentils and onions. So much flavor for so few ingredients.

For years I would make it, sometimes successfully, others a complete fail. Mostly based on the relative cooking times of the lentils and rice. Recently I found a recipe for mjeddrah by Yotam Ottolenghi; it was a bit more complex in flavor than any others I had tried, but the combination of spices he used was one I am very familiar with and really enjoy. In his recipe, he calls for cinnamon and nutmeg; I have replaced them with advieh, a Persian spice with similar characteristics. If you do not have advieh, you can go back to his version which is half cinnamon and half nutmeg. He also calls for whole cumin and coriander seeds – my family did not enjoy the whole toasted seeds in the dish (you can see the seeds in the picture below), so I have converted them to ground amounts in my version of the recipe.


– adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi

250ml sunflower oil

4 medium onions, thinly sliced

250g green or brown lentils

200g basmati rice

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1 Tbsp advieh

1 tsp sugar

salt and black pepper

350ml water

Put the lentils in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and cool for 12-15 minutes, until the lentils have softened but still have a little bite. Drain into a colander.

Heat the sunflower oil in a medium-size, heavy-based saucepan. When very hot, add 1/3 of the onion. Fry for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a slotted spoon, until the onions are a golden-brown color and crispy. Use the spoon to transfer the onion to a colander and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with 2 more batches of onions.

Wipe the saucepan you fried the onions. Add the rice, olive oil, spices, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt and plenty of black pepper. Stir to coat the rice with the oil and stirring the spices through.

Add the lentils and water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on very low for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat, lift off the lid and cover the pan with a clean tea towel (or put on a quilted lid cover) and seal tightly with the lid and let sit for 10 minutes.

Mix in 1/2 the onions.

Serve topping each dish with more onions. Enjoy!

Serves 4.



7 Comments Add yours

  1. Miss Dinie says:

    This is something that I have the ingredients for! Might make this tomorrow! Perfect for a Lent meal.


    1. Yes, great for Lent!Let me know how it goes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Miss Dinie says:

        I will.. Got yellow split peas soaking now.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Miss Dinie says:

        Hiya! I’ve cooked it! I added chilli and coconut cream to tweak it a little! Tasted good! I normally cook dhal, but this makes a change.


      3. Ooh, that would be an interesting change, really different flavors. I can imagine it was very nice.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Miss Dinie says:

        Yes,it was quite good.. Just had it for dinner! I like coconut and chilli,so adding those was a no brainer! Added Jamaican Allspice(Pimento) as a replacement for nutmeg.


Let me know what you think of this post, and if you try the recipe, please let me know how it was and any suggestions you have. Thanks, Andrea

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