Mujaddara (Arabic: مجدرة mujadarah, with alternative spellings in English majadra, mejadra, moujadara, mudardara, and megadarra) consists of cooked lentils together with groats, generally rice, and garnished with sautéed onions.
Name and origin
Mujaddara is the Arabic word for "pockmarked"; the lentils among the rice resemble pockmarks. The first recorded recipe for mujaddara appears in Kitab al-Tabikh, a cookbook compiled in 1226 by al-Baghdadi in Iraq. Containing rice, lentils, and meat, it was served this way during celebrations. Without meat, it was a medieval Arab dish commonly consumed by the poor, reputed to be a derivative of the "mess of pottage" Jacob used to buy Esau's birthright. Because of its importance in the diet, a saying in the Eastern Arab world is, "A hungry man would be willing to sell his soul for a dish of mujaddara."
Cooked lentils are popular all over the Middle East and form the basis of many dishes. Mujaddara is a popular dish throughout the Arab world, and is generally made using brown or green lentils and rice, that can be seasoned with cumin, coriander, or mint. It is topped with fried onions and is generally served with yogurt, among other vegetables and side dishes, either hot or cold.
When made with brown lentils and rice, it is known as mudardara in Lebanon; imjadra there generally refers to a dish made with green (and sometimes brown) lentils and bulgur; it is also topped with fried onions, melted butter, and served with yogurt.
Arab Christians traditionally eat mujaddara during Lent. The dish is also popular among Jewish communities of Middle Eastern origin, in particular those of Syrian and Egyptian backgrounds; it is generally made with rice rather than wheat. It is sometimes nicknamed "Esau's favourite". Jews traditionally ate it twice a week: hot on Thursday evening, and cold on Sunday. In Israel, mujaddara is eaten alongside meat such as beef and lamb, but chicken is the most common meat accompanying it.
In Egyptian cuisine, lentils, rice, macaroni, and tomato sauce cooked together are known as kushari. In Indian cuisines, lentils cooked together with rice are known as khichdi (see also kedgeree). In Iranian cuisine, a similar dish composed of rice and lentils is called Addas Polo.
In Cypriot cuisine, the dish called "fakes moutzentra" is very similar to mujaddara, as it consists of lentils and rice. In Greek, "fakes" means lentils.
- Middle Eastern Kitchen, Ghillie Basan, p. 118.
- Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, Gil Marks, p. 412.
- From the lands of figs and olives: over 300 delicious and unusual recipes from the Middle East and North Africa, Habeeb Salloum and Jim Peters, p. 199.
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- Yangou, Varvara. "Φακές μουτζιέντρα". foodmuseum.cs.ucy.ac.cy (in Greek). Cyprus Food Virtual Museum. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
- Roden, Claudia, A New Book of Middle Eastern Food: London 1986 ISBN 0-14-046588-X