Caramelized Onion, Lentils and Lamb

This is a veeeeery loose interpretation of a wonderful Lebanese dish called mujadara. For the traditional dish, check out this delicious recipe over at Cosette's Kitchen.

I took different recipes I found online and in a couple of cookbooks, to change up the dish based on what I had in my fridge and also what my family would eat. Traditionally, the lentils are cooked with the rice, but my son won't eat lentils, so I cooked them separately. That way whoever wanted some lentils could spoon some over the top.

When you're craving a warm hug (which we're all in need of right now, right?), this is the dish to make.

Caramelized Onion, Lentils and Lamb

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Servings: 4


  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 cup lentils (brown, green or red), rinsed
  • about 2 cups Chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup basmati rice (or jasmine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Greek yogurt (I love using Ellenos)
  • lime juice
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Serve with pita or naan.


  • In a medium saucepan, cook lamb over medium heat. As it browns, season with salt and pepper and a sprinkle with some cumin. When fully cooked, remove lamb from pan and set aside. To save dishes, use the same saucepan to cook the spices and onions.
  • Add lentils to a medium saucepan. Fill with enough chicken broth to cover the lentils by about an inch. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender, but not mushy, and the liquid is fully absorbed, about 15-20 minutes.
  • While the lentils cook, heat oil in a large skillet.
  • When the oil easily swirls around the pan, add the cumin seeds and pepper. Toast the spices, shaking the pan every once in a while, until the cumin seeds darken a touch, about 1 minute.
  • Add the onions, sprinkle with a dash of salt and cook until they turn dark caramel brown, stirring often. This will take about 20-30 minutes. Splash the onions with a little water if they stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • The onions are done when they turn a deep caramel brown color and the onions around the edges of the pan will start to get a bit crispy.
  • Using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove about half of the onions to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Sprinkle in the ground cumin, cayenne and then add the cinnamon stick; saute about 1 minute.
  • Add the rice and cook, stirring often to toast the rice a bit. After 1-2 minutes, add the cooked lentils (you can also serve them on the side if you have non-lentil eating people in your family), 3 cups of water and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt; bring to a boil.
  • Turn the heat down to low so that the pan is at a low simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes.
  • You'll know it's done when the water is completely evaporated, and the rice should be cooked. Depending on your stove, you may need to add or subtract 5 minutes.
  • When the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked turn off the heat, keep the lid on, and allow the rice to steam undisturbed for about 5 minutes. This makes the rice extra fluffy, so don't skip this step. You can use this 5 minutes to pour yourself a glass of wine, you've earned it!
  • Taste the rice for seasoning.
  • Stir in the lamb until the lamb is combined with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Serve with the reserved caramelized onions, toasted pine nuts, if using, and a little squeeze of lemon juice.
  • I also like to serve this with some Greek yogurt. I mix in some chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice to the yogurt to add more flavor to it.
Have you made this recipe?I'd love to know! Leave a comment or recipe rating and tag me @amenuforyou on social media!

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