Mujadara is a Middle Eastern staple that consists of lentils, rice, and caramelized onions and varies by region and personal taste. This Grain-Free Mujadara is our take on the dish, using cauliflower rice to eliminate grain and reduce carbs and coconut yogurt or Vegan Coconut Cucumber Raita to keep everything plant-based. We also added both cumin and coriander because we like it like that.
You may glance at the ingredients and think this will be flavorless recipe, but Mujadara becomes magical when all the ingredients come together. The key is to take your time caramelizing the onions while the lentils are cooking. If you really like onions, we recommend making extra. This is a large recipe, but don’t bother scaling down. It freezes very well for quick meals later.Print
Grain-Free Mujadara is our take on this classic Middle Eastern lentil dish. Loaded with plant-based protein and perfect for a weeknight meal.
For the Lentils & Rice
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 12-ounce bags frozen cauliflower rice, partly thawed
- 5 cups filtered water
- 1 1/2 cups dry green or brown lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
For the Caramelized Onions
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium yellow or white onions, sliced into thin half moons
- Pinches of salt and ground black pepper
- For serving: Vegan Coconut Cucumber Raita or plain coconut yogurt, fresh cilantro for garnish
Doing the Prep
- Set the bags of cauliflower rice out to thaw. Prep the onions and set aside separately.
- If you plan to make Vegan Coconut Cucumber Raita (which we highly recommend), do it now so the mixture can refrigerate while everything is cooking.
For the Lentils & Rice
- Heat a large, heavy pot over medium heat and add the oil and diced onions (a Dutch oven is awesome for this recipe). Sauté until caramelized and browned, stirring frequently, 8-10 minutes. While onions are cooking, pick through, rinse, and strain the lentils, and measure the seasonings.
- Once the diced onions are browned and caramelized, add garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup of water to deglaze the bottom of the pot, scraping up any browned bits. A add salt and spices, lentils, and remaining 4 cups of water. Stir and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes (set a timer), stirring occasionally. For many reasons, all dried pulses vary in cooking time. Green and brown lentils cook in 20-30 minutes, depending on your texture preference. At 20 minutes, they will be firm-tender, but some may still be too firm. By 30 minutes, most will be mushy, and some will split and start to fall apart, which is what makes them good for thick soups. But that’s not the plan here. An exception to these times comes with age. Older lentils will take longer to cook, so if yours are still too firm at 20-25 minutes, extend cooking time, checking at 5-minute intervals. Ours took 25 minutes and we wrote extra cooking time into the recipe to allow for variance.
- Once lentils are tender (think al dente pasta) pour off and reserve any excess liquid. Depending on cooking time, you will have up to a cup of liquid. Gently fold in the thawed cauliflower rice with a silicone spatula (break up any lumps that are still frozen), add 1/2 cup of reserved liquid back to the pot, and simmer for 3 minutes. Gently stir and cook another 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
For the Caramelized Onions
- While lentils are cooking, heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once oil is shimmering add the onions and spread out into an even layer. Allow onions to sit long enough to caramelize the edges, then flip. Repeat with the other side, then reduce heat to medium-low, and continue stirring/flipping as needed, until the onions become deeply caramelized.
- NOTE: Slow and low is the key, and you will need to transfer quick browning pieces to a bowl to avoid burning. Once the onions are fully cooked, sprinkle with salt and pepper, transfer to a plate or bowl, and set aside.
Putting it Together
- Transfer cooked lentils and cauliflower rice to a serving dish or individual bowls.
- Top with the caramelized onions, garnish, and serve immediately with Vegan Coconut Cucumber Raita, or plain coconut yogurt.
Cool completely before refrigerating in a glass airtight container up to 5 days. Keep any reserved liquid for reheating, if desired. To freeze, divide into desired portion sizes and freeze in airtight containers or reusable zip top bags with air removed, up to 3 months. Freeze reserved liquid for easy reheating. Thaw in refrigerator overnight and reheat in a pan or microwave.
Nutrition Estimate Per Serving (1/6 RECIPE) – Calories: 258, Fat: 5.1, Saturated Fat: .9g, Trans Fat: 0g, Polyunsaturated Fat: .4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3.5g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 313, Potassium: 545mg Carbohydrates: 38.7g total/30.5g net, Fiber: 8.2g, Sugar: 4.3g, Protein: 12.8g, Vitamin A: 0%, Vitamin C: 4% Calcium: 17%, Iron: 15.5% (based on 2,000 calorie diet). Does not include yogurt.
Keywords: MUJADARA, LENTILS AND RICE, LENTILS AND CAULIFLOWER RICE, GRAIN-FREE, VEGAN, GLUTEN-FREE, VEGETARIAN, LOW-FAT, PLANT-BASED, MIDDLE EASTERN LENTILS, WEEKNIGHT MEALS, HEALTHY DINNERS, PLANT PROTEIN