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Photograph by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Thu Buser

Even famous chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi aren’t immune from the unexpected whims of the occasional picky eater (kids!). Luckily, he shares his road-tested blueprint for Mejadra, the popular dish enjoyed around the Arab world—and especially in his home kitchen.

This recipe for Mejadra is great as is, but you can also follow Ottolenghi’s lead and swap the rice and lentils for whatever combination of grains and beans you have on hand. The brown lentils called for here can easily be swapped for green, black, or Le Puy, with the latter taking about 10 minutes longer to cook.

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What you’ll need


4–6 servings


cup basmati rice


Tbsp. unsalted butter


oz. angel hair pasta, coarsely broken into 1" pieces (about ¾ cup)

tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more


cup brown lentils


medium onions, thinly sliced

tsp. cornstarch


cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling


Tbsp. ground cumin


tsp. ground cinnamon


tsp. ground turmeric

Freshly ground pepper


cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt

Thinly sliced chives (for serving)


  1. Step 1

    Place 1 cup basmati rice in a medium bowl and pour in cold water to cover. Swish rice around with your fingers, then drain in a fine-mesh sieve. Repeat process until water runs clear (3–5 more times). Drain rice well the final time.

    Step 2

    Heat 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add 2 oz. angel hair pasta, coarsely broken into 1" pieces (about ¾ cup), and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 90 seconds. Add rice, 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt, and 2 cups water and stir to combine; reserve sieve. Cover pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook 15 minutes.

    Step 3

    Meanwhile, place ½ cup brown lentils in another medium saucepan and pour in water to cover by about 1"; season with salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 12–15 minutes. Drain in reserved sieve; set aside.

    Step 4

    Remove rice mixture from heat and let sit (still covered) 15 minutes.

    Step 5

    While the rice mixture is resting, toss 2 medium onions, thinly sliced, and 1½ tsp. cornstarch in a clean medium bowl to coat. Heat ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil in a large nonstick pan over high. Carefully add onions to pan; reserve bowl. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed, until golden brown and crisp in spots, 12–15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add 1 Tbsp. ground cumin, 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, ½ tsp. ground turmeric, and remaining ¼ tsp. Diamond Crystal or Morton kosher salt. Season with freshly ground pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer onions back to reserved bowl.

    Step 6

    Fluff rice mixture with a fork. Gently mix in lentils, then onions, reserving a few. Divide mejadra among bowls and spoon 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt over. Top with reserved onions, then thinly sliced chives; drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

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  • Great recipe, except for the onion instructions. 1 1/2 tsp for 2 onions didn't brown and crisp at all. I ended up with caramelized onions. Still good, but not what I was hoping for.

    • Eb

    • Brooklyn NY

    • 12/11/2022

  • This looks so yummy and delicious! I haven't cooked it yet, but am planning to this week. Can't wait to try it.

    • Kathryn S

    • North Muskegon

    • 11/29/2022