Lentils and bulgur wheat with caramelized onions is a delicious Middle Eastern dish. A great source of protein and fiber, it is also a tasty Vegetarian entree.
If I had to eat one type of food every day for the rest of my life, it would be Middle Eastern food.
When we go out to eat, I crave it. When we’re celebrating a holiday, I make it. If it’s a day that ends in ‘y’, I want it!
This particular dish is made with lentils and bulgur wheat which are cooked together in just a little water, salt and pepper then topped with caramelized onions.
This is a humble, affordable dish but it is always a family-favorite. Great for serving a crowd, it tastes delicious warm, room temperature or chilled.
To start, you’ll want to pan-fry the onions in olive oil until they become caramelized and sweet.
How long does it take to caramelize onions?
This step can take a little bit of time but I promise the end result is worth it. Depending on how many onions you wish to fry, I typically recommend at least one inch of oil and letting them cool down for about 30-45 minutes, stirring regularly.
Once the onions are caramelized, remove from the pan and let strain on a plate lined with paper towel. This will help remove any excess oil.
Once the onions are done caramelizing, you’ll cook the bulgur and lentils in the same pan. This allows you to use that delicious flavor from frying the onions to season the whole dish.
To serve, you’ll top each bowl of lentils and bulgur wheat with caramelized onions. If you have fresh parsley and plain yogurt, I highly recommend that as well.
Want more delicious Lebanese recipes? Here are a few of my favorites:
- Lemon Garlic Greens and Onions
- Tabbouleh Salad
- Hummus with Toasted Pine Nuts
- Meat-Stuffed Grape Leaves
- Stuffed Kusa Squash in a Tomato Mint Broth
All of these recipes, and every Middle Eastern recipe I share, are dishes you can feel good about serving. Full of flavor and loaded in vitamins, nutrients and healthy fats, they will leave you feeling satisfied and happy.
These recipes hold a special place in my heart and remind me of the special occasions where we’ve enjoyed these dishes. (Did I mention one Christmas we prepared nothing but traditional Syrian food?) I’ll take hummus over turkey any day of the week.
Your fork is waiting.
Lentils and Bulgur Wheat with Caramelized Onions
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large onions (thinly sliced)
- 1 cup dried lentils (rinsed and sorted)
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup bulgur wheat
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ cup parsley (minced)
- Plain yogurt (optional, to serve)
- In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat and add the onion slices.
- Cook for 45 minutes, stirring frequently, until brown and caramelized.
- If they begin to burn, reduce heat to medium or even medium-low. Keep them moving!
- Remove onions from pan and set aside.
- Add lentils and water to the same pan and boil for 15 minutes, uncovered.
- Stir in bulgur, salt and pepper then bring to a simmer.
- Place a lid on the pan then reduce heat to low.
- Cook for 15 additional minutes then fluff with a fork.
- Spread pilaf on a platter and top with caramelized onions and chopped parsley. Serve with plain yogurt.
I followed this recipe exactly the way it’s written and by the time the lentils were done all the water had been soaked up. After I added the bulgur I added some more water, but my mixture got mushy. What could I have done wrong?
How much more water did you add when you added the bulgur wheat? You shouldn’t need to add any more water.
I like everything softer than most, how soft will the lentils be with the cooking time?
They still have a bit of a firm bite, let them simmer for an extra 5-10 minutes if you like them softer.
FYI this is called mujadara harma! There’s a few different ways to make mujudara (classic mujadara and mujadara mahkbousa–both of which are gf) but they use different ratios of lentils to rice and vary in which lentil is used :)
Love that – we never said “harma” after mujadara but I love learning that!!
In your description you suggest carmelizing the onions in one inch of oil but the recipe only call for 1 tablespoon of oil. Which is right?
Either works – depends on how many calories you want to use. :) It tastes GREAT either way!
Hello! Looks delicious???? having this for lunch today! How many grams are in one serving please?
I’m not sure the grams I apologize! You’d have to weigh it yourself.
Thank you so much for this recipe. I have been cooking mujadara (lentils and bulgur for almost 50 years and recently got an instant pot. This recipe is spot on. Perfect and utterly delicious. Do put the yogurt on top (I sprinkle some chopped mint on too. One half cup serving? Seriously? Lentils make you lose weight lol. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. I mix the onions throughout after the lentils are cooked because I want some in every bite. Cold leftovers are terrific too.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!! Isn’t it SO good!?! I love it cold too!
This was excellent! Thank you for the recipe!
Of course! So glad you enjoyed!
What type of lentils should I use for this recipe?
I always use regular brown lentils!
I used red lentil (thats what I had on hand) and it came out mushy.
Hi Glenda – I’m afraid red lentils are a different type of lentil and cook much quicker. Unfortunately they can’t be used in this recipe because as you found out they get way too mushy.
When you say to saute the onions, is that really for 45 minutes or 4-5 minutes?
I can’t wait to try this! I just discovered bulgur wheat, and I love it!
Hi Jenny – It actually does take quite some time to really caramelize onions. You can cook them for less time and it will be fine but they have to be cooked low and slow to turn soft, sweet and fully caramelized. :)
This recipe makes it simple! I first stumbled upon Mujadara on youtube and variation that adds clove, bay leave, cumin and cinnamon. I love your prep overall though, and I have adopted it to make things simple. Thank you.
What a great idea to use bulgur instead of rice. Do you use the coarse size bulgur or any size bulgur will be OK? Also, do you know how to change the cooking time for brown rice instead of bulgur?
I was thinking of having this as a main dish, but the serving size of 1/2 c seems small; I am counting carbs for diabetes and the carb amount is perfect for one meal, so I guess my question is, is it filling? I would think with all that fiber and protein it woud be…
You are exactly right – it’s VERY filling due to the high amount of protein and fiber. I always serve it with plain yogurt as well. Hope that helps!