Our slightly untraditional version of the classic Middle Eastern dish, Mujadara, is made with lentils, quinoa, caramelized onions and a tahini yogurt sauce. It’s vegan, gluten free and PACKED with flavor. You have to try this recipe!
This mujadara might not be the prettiest dish you’ve ever seen, but boy oh boy is it GOOD.
It’s everything I love in one dish, plus it’s packed with plant-based protein from the lentils and quinoa. Crispy, caramelized onions are a must have topping, plus an addictive tahini yogurt sauce that I want to drizzle on everything.
Living in southeast Michigan, we’re blessed to have a plethora of incredible Lebanese/Middle Eastern restaurants nearby. Seriously, there are three amazing restaurants within about a 2 mile radius from us! It’s pretty much the only type of food we order for takeout because we usually can’t make it quite as good at home 😉
Mujadara is one of our favorite items to order from the Middle Eastern restaurant just around the corner. It also happens to be relatively easy to make at home!
We love that it’s a complete vegan meal with plenty of protein, carbs and healthy fats. So satisfying! You’ll definitely want to make extra so you have leftovers. It’s even better the next day.
Bonus: it’s the perfect pantry-friendly recipe, using almost all pantry ingredients other than the sauce (which is optional).
First things first…
What is Mujadara?
Mujadara (also spelled mujaddara) is a lentil, rice and onion dish with Middle Eastern origins. It’s relatively simple, using a number of pantry staples, but it’s comforting, flavorful and rich. (Mostly thanks to caramelized onions!)
Mujadara is traditionally made with green lentils and jasmine rice. It’s also typically topped with fried onions and sometimes served with a yogurt sauce.
Our recipe differs a bit from the traditional version. Instead of jasmine rice, we used quinoa, which cooks a bit faster and contains more plant-based protein. Additionally, instead of frying the onions, we opted for caramelized onions.
Lastly, we added a delicious, tangy, refreshing tahini/lemon/yogurt sauce for topping. I love getting a little bit in every bite: hearty, spiced lentils and quinoa, sweet caramelized onions and a cooling, yet rich sauce.
Mujadara Ingredients & Substitutions
- Olive oil (or butter)
- Yellow onions: Slice the onions in half lengthwise, then slice thinly. You can also use shallots if preferred.
- (Optional) White wine: I always keep a bottle of dry white wine on hand for cooking. It’s especially great for deglazing caramelized onions – it adds so much flavor! About every 10 minutes or so, add a small splash of wine and scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. You can also use broth.
Lentils + Quinoa
- Lentils: Regular brown or green lentils will do. You can also use French green lentils (Puy lentils), which retain their shape well. Don’t use red or yellow lentils, which fall apart easily.
- Quinoa: any variety will do. Tricolor, white, red, etc.
- Tomato Paste: A small amount of concentrated tomato paste adds a ton of flavor! Be sure to get the good stuff.
- Spices & herbs: We use a pretty wide range of spices and herbs to bring plenty of flavor to this mujadara. They include: cumin, garlic powder, pepper, salt, cinnamon, coriander, paprika, bay leaves and dried or fresh parsley.
- Vegetable broth: we used regular, store-bought vegetable broth. If you use low sodium, you may want to adjust the amount of salt. See here for how to make homemade broth with vegetable scraps!
Tahini Yogurt Sauce
- Tahini: Technically, you could just use yogurt, but we love the nutty, creamy, rich addition of tahini.
- Plain vegan yogurt: there are tons of options out there. We used a cashew-based yogurt, but almond, coconut or oat work well, too.
- Lemon juice: freshly squeezed, always!
- Cumin: optional, but adds lots of flavor.
- Salt, pepper and olive oil
How to store & reheat
We suggest storing the sauce in a separate container. When you’re ready to reheat, add the lentil/quinoa mixture + the onions to a skillet and heat over low, stirring often so nothing burns.
When it’s heated through, serve and top with the chilled yogurt sauce.
More flavorful vegan dinner favorites
- Creamy Polenta with Mushrooms
- Miso Glazed Roasted Eggplant with Chili Garlic Cashews
- Tofu Dan Dan Noodles
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
- White Bean Tomato Stew
- Mediterranean Salad with Falafel and Sumac Tahini Dressing
If you make this vegan Mujadara with Lentils, Quinoa and Caramelized Onions, we’d love for you to leave a comment and rating below! We also love to see your creations on Instagram – tag us at @crowded_kitchen so we can see what you’ve been cooking.Print
Our slightly untraditional version of the classic Lebanese dish, Mujadara, is made with lentils, quinoa, caramelized onions and a tahini yogurt sauce.
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups dry brown or green lentils
- 1/2 cup quinoa*
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp dried parsley or 2 tbsp fresh, chopped parsley
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 2 bay leaves
- Optional: fresh parsley & slivered almonds for garnish
Tahini Yogurt Sauce:
- 10 oz plain vegan yogurt
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 tsp cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and 1/2 tsp of salt and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring often, until they start to soften. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking for 30 minutes, until browned and caramelized. You can use a splash of white wine or vegetable broth to deglaze the pan every 10 minutes or so.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot. Add lentils, quinoa, tomato paste, dried parsley, cumin, 1 tsp of salt, garlic, pepper, coriander, paprika, cinnamon and bay leaves. Stir well to evenly coat lentils and quinoa, then add in vegetable broth.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes, until lentils and quinoa are cooked and liquid is absorbed.
- Meanwhile, whisk together all ingredients for tahini sauce.
- Serve lentil and quinoa mixture topped with caramelized onions, yogurt sauce, fresh parsley and slivered almonds (optional). Enjoy!
*Can substitute quinoa with brown rice.