If you don’t know the Arabic dish called Mujadara then you, my friend are missing out. Big time. This dish is a wonderful mix of grains and flavors that you can whip up to feed a crowd or keep for lunch the next day. For the past few years, this is one of my go-to comfort dishes because it has everything a good comfort dish needs, minus all the crap it doesn’t.
The first time I made this dish, I was a newbie and I followed the directions to the letter. The next time, I made a few small tweaks featuring cauliflower & soy, and today’s version is oil-free, vegan and uses beluga (black) lentils instead of your standard green or brown.
This dish is very simple, totally plant based if you decided not to add any meat alternatives to it, and very delicious. Very.
Most of the ingredients in this vegan mujadara are pantry staples like rice (or bulgur), onions & garlic, and lentils, not to mention fridge staples (for me) such as soy sauce and mushrooms. Add in anything else you want such as vegan mince, tofu or tempeh, and you’ve got your mujadara recipe complete.
To cap off the good things about this vegan mujadara, it’s the perfect one pot meal for an easy weeknight dinner! Start with the mushrooms because you will finish them off in the oven while you work on the rest of the dish. Get a good crisp around the edges but make sure the mushrooms are still plump when you pop them into the oven.
Next, let’s work on the onions and cook until caramelized. You can use oil and sugar if you want or sprinkle a teaspoon or two of baking soda to aid in the breakdown of the sugars in the onion for a quick caramelization. The onions are traditionally served on top but like I said, I’ve been constantly improving upon this dish for my own diet so do as you wish with that.
Now you can add the garlic and cook about 3 minutes before you add the water or broth, bay leaf, black pepper, cumin, garam masala and smoky paprika. That’s what I used but feel free to experiment with your spice cabinet. Add the rice first and cook about 10 minutes.
Side note: I advise using a brown basmati or whole grain rice for this otherwise you will end up with mushy rice. After the rice has started to cook, add the lentils.
Because I used beluga lentils, I added both grains at the same time and the lentils were soft but with a bite and the rice was in perfect condition as well.
Stir in the mushrooms and any meat alternatives if you’ve used them and cook through until everything is warm.
You can serve mujadara with a bunch of different sides but I opted to just slice some scallions on top because this is a hearty dish that doesn’t need anything else to satisfy your hunger.