Bulgur Wheat Mujadarah


Has anyone else noticed that people may or may not eat a particular food depending on what it’s called?

I know there’s a lot written about this but I saw it for myself yesterday, when I had a party at my house and served buffet style. One of the dishes was Mujadarah (there are lots of ways to spell this Middle Eastern dish). Everyone seemed taken by its name and helped themselves to some, which was terrific because it turned out to be one of the favorites of the day and people came back for seconds and more and there wasn’t a morsel left for today. :(

Only a couple of people asked what it was and when I explained it is made with bulgur wheat and lentils they hesitated.

Just say Mujadarah and people will eat it. It is a special dish. Not only delicious, but easy to make and you can cook it a day or so ahead of a party. It is also a vegetarian dish that is fabulously nutritious (high protein and fiber).

I once read that Mujadarah is the dish that the biblical Esau found so tempting that he sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowlful. Recipes for this so-called “Esau’s Pottage” abound. Some of them contain meat or meat stock or vegetables. My recipe is fairly plain and simple. I make the onions at least one day ahead because the thick, rich juices leech out of the caramelized onions after a few hours and I pour these into the cooked bulgur and lentils for extra flavor. 

Make extra. This stuff goes (at least when you call it by its proper name).


  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 3 large yellow onions, peeled and sliced

  • 3/4 cup lentils

  • 3 cups water or stock

  • 1 cup bulgur wheat

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • salt to taste

Heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions  and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until the onions are soft and brown. Spoon the onions into a container and cover the container. Refrigerate when cool if not serving the dish immediately. Place the lentils in a saucepan and cover with the water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook for 18 minutes. Add the bulgur wheat, stir, cover the pan and cook for another 5 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Let rest in the covered pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a bowl. Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil. Add the parsley and toss the ingredients. Add the cumin and salt to taste. If serving immediately, stir in the onions with any accumulated juices. If serving at a later time, stir in the onions and juices, cover the pan and reheat in a covered baking dish in a preheated 350 degree oven.

Makes 4 servings

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