Mejadra Rice with Lentils, Greek Yogurt, and Shallots Recipe - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Mejadra Rice with Lentils, Greek Yogurt, and Shallots Recipe

Photography by Devon Francis

Rice and lentils are two of my favorite foods, but I love them even more when they’re paired together.  I was on a Mejadra kick the last few weeks and loved every bite. Mejadra is a Middle Eastern-Mediterranean dish of rice and lentils cooked with warming spices (not spicy) and topped with fried onions. I tried two recipes recently, one by Ottolenghi and one in the new Staub cookbook.  The Staub recipe was by far my favorite.

I made Mejadra for Rosh Hashana lunch and to break the fast on Yom Kippur. Both times I was trying to accommodate the vegans in the group (I served the yogurt on the side), but everyone dug into it and enjoyed it so much.  I was worried there wasn’t going to be leftovers for me, so I snuck some into a container so I could eat it a few days later.  Mejadra is one of those easy, flavorful, hearty dishes that should be in every rice-and-legume-eater’s back pocket.  It goes with anything and everything and the leftovers reheat beautifully on their own, with a fried egg on top, with avocado, with a basic salad, or with some stock and turned into a soup.

I didn’t follow this recipe exactly – I used mint instead of chervil leaves and I pan-fried my own shallots, as opposed to buying them already fried in a can.  Or just saute onions and stir those in. Plus, I do have a Staub cast iron cocotte, which I LOVE, but you can use a regular old pot and I am sure it will taste just as delish.

Speaking of Staub, their cookbook authored by my friend Amanda Frederickson, is gorgeous with a capital G. It’s not a book focused on uber healthful foods, mind you.  The dessert section doesn’t stay away from sugar, for example.  But let me tell you, I want to make and eat everything in this book! Chicken meatballs in red coconut curry sauce; toasty honey corn loaf; pumpkin, bacon and kale gratin; spiced chocolate fondue!

Let me know if you have a favorite way to make Mejadra since I am obsessed at the moment.  And if you make this or any of my recipes, please tag me so I can see your creations! @pamelasalzman #pamelasalzman


You can shop the tools I used in this recipe by clicking on the images below!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Mejadra Rice
Serves: 4 servings
  • ½ cup green lentils (or brown, but NOT duPuy or Beluga)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined olive oil
  • ½ onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cane sugar
  • ⅔ cup white basmati rice
  • For Serving:
  • Plain Greek yogurt (optional, but I was surprised how much I liked it)
  • Fresh herbs, I used mint
  • Crispy shallots (I sauteed some in a skillet with olive oil)
  • Ground Cayenne (it's really hot!)
  1. Put the lentils in a cast-iron petite French oven, add water to cover, then add the bay leaves and salt. Place over medium heat, bring to a low boil and boil for 12 to 15 minutes, until the lentils have softened but still have a little bite. Drain reserving ¾ cup of the cooking water.
  2. Heat the oil in a 4-quart cast-iron cocotte and add the onion. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion takes on a golden brown color.
  3. Add the turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, and sugar and cook for 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the cooked lentils and reserved lentil stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and simmer for 11 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and cover the pot with a clean, dry tea towel. Seal tightly with the lid and set aside for 10 minutes to let the rice rest and absorb all the flavors.
  5. Serve the rice topped with yogurt, crispy shallots, a sprinkle of cayenne, and herbs.


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  1. I plan to make this with brown basmati Rice. I am confused with a previous comment that you made regarding brown rice. I should use the water from the lentils and add about another 1 1/2 of water to the rice and cooked lentils, and cook for 40 minutes, rest for 10? Why the sautéed on onions separate?
    I don’t want it to turn out soggy. Thank you!

  2. I love this recipe! It goes really well with your Chicken Shawarma recipe. If I were to double the Mejadra rice recipe, should I double everything, including rice and water?

    • Yes, great combo! I would do just slightly under doubling the water if doubling everything else.

  3. I love this recipe however when I attempted to double it, it did not come out as well. The basmati rice was undercooked but keeping it on the stove longer resulted in lentils that were too mushy. Do you have any suggestions if you are trying to make this for a crowd? Thank you!

    • I’m sorry you didn’t have success when you doubled it. Tell me please, You used white basmati rice, correct? Did you also double the liquid? What about the size saucepan you used? If you doubled the liquid, it sounds like you used a pot that was too big. Let me know!

      • I used white basmati rice and doubled the liquid, but I did use a 5qt dutch oven that was probably too big. What size pot do you recommend for the recipe as is and what size pot when doubled? Thank you!! My husband still said this was the best rice he has ever had!

        • Oh yes. 5 quart is much too big. I would recommend a 2-quart saucepan if doubling the recipe, max 3 quart. For a single, a 1 or 1 1/2 quart is perfectly fine.

  4. beyond delicious.. made it yesterday.. L O V E

  5. CanI make this with brown rice? How would you adjust the cooking time?

    • I’m sure you could. I would cook everything together at the same time in a covered pot – lentils, rice, spices. Saute onions separately. I would try 2 1/3 cups water, cook for 40-45 until the rice is tender and allow to sit off the heat for 10, covered. Let me know how it turns out!

  6. Funny, because that’s what I serve for Rosh Hashanah lunch. I love it’s earthy quality. Feels like home.

    • I will try this version now, as the only one I knew was Ottolenghis.

    • Agreed!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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