Mejadra, Rice with Lentils

Mejadra, Rice with Lentils

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[Photographs: Eilon Paz]

Mejadra is the Israeli equivalent of rice and beans—a hearty grain and legume dish that can be served as a side or a vegetarian main. This version of mejadra from The Book of New Israeli Food by Janna Gur begins with gently cooked onions mixed with lentils and seasoned with cumin. The lentils are then simmered with long grain rice and topped with crisp-fried onions. Five onions for six servings of rice might seem like a bit much, but the two layers of onions give this dish its wonderfully deep oniony flavor, lending their sweet-savoriness to the rice and lentils.

Reprinted with permission from The Book of New Israeli Food by Janna Gur. Copyright © 2007. Published by Schocken Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

  • Yield:makes 6 to 8 servings
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:45 minutes


  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 2 cups rice
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • To Serve (optional):
  • 2 onions, sliced into thin rings
  • Oil for frying


  1. 1.

    Cook the lentils in water until they soften, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  2. 2.

    Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and fry the onions until golden. Add the lentils and season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Add the rice and stir-fry for a minute or two until the rice grains turn opaque.

  3. 3.

    Add 3 cups boiling water, bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, fluff with a fork, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

  4. 4.

    Before serving, fry the onion rings in oil until brown and crisp and arrange over the mejadra.