Lentil and green wheat porridge(mujaddara)

As a young mother, I had a mission: my kids were going to like Lebanese food. No room in my pantry for hamburger helpers and the like.

Here is how I introduced mujaddara, our Lebanese lentil and rice porridge.

” Chocolate pudding kids!”

(It worked); they loved it.  My son  learned to make it  when he moved out.

Mujaddara was always the quintessential  Lebanese country dish. It was what people ate during periods of fasting as well. Its origin can be found in the Old Testament, according to some, as it was mentioned in the Genesis as the dish that Jacob gave up his inheritance rights for.

Traditionally mujaddara is cooked with rice or bulgur and flavored with lots of caramelized onions.

Today, I wanted to use roasted green wheat, AKA freekeh.

Here is my prediction: Freekeh is going to be the next quinoa.

It will one day be produced in the US.

For the time being, freekeh can easily be found in any Middle-Eastern store or online.

To read on the nutritional benefits of freekeh, click here. (check out its fiber and protein content!)

INGREDIENTS: Quantity will feed 12 people

  • 2 cups of brown lentils (360 g)
  • 4 cups of chopped onions
  • 1 cup of roasted green wheat or freekeh (can easily substitute another cereal of your choice, rice or coarse bulgur)
  • seasonings: salt, pepper, a dash of allspice, a dash of cumin.
  • 1/4 cup (3 tablespoons) of date molasses (optional)
  • olive oil, as needed
  • chicken stock (optional)

Fresh Pomegranate salsa:

  • 2 cups of pomegranate seeds
  • 1 red onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil, two tablespoons of fresh pomegranate juice
  • a few chopped cilantro leaves (or other herb)
  • 3 small cucumbers, diced

METHOD:

  1. Pour the lentils in a large pot and add water to cover by about one inch (8 cups of water should suffice). Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are cooked.
  2. In the meantime, soak the freekeh in water, inspecting the grains to make sure no stones have been forgotten in there. Chop the onions in the food processor by pulsing, and transfer them to a skillet in which you will pour about 1/2 cup of olive oil.
  3. Fry the onions for 45 minutes on low heat, until they are caramelized. Reserve half of the onions for garnish, and add to the other half the date molasses, stirring to mix it well throughout. Add the onions to the pot with the lentils, add salt, pepper, cumin and allspice and mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the freekeh and stir the pot, then cover and let the mixture simmer gently, adding one or two cups of chicken broth or water to the pot. This will provide enough liquid for the freekeh to cook in. If there was already enough liquid in the pot, disregard this step. (Keep in mind the freekeh needs 2 cups of liquid).
  4. Check after 15 minutes to see if the freekeh is soft to the bite; taste and adjust seasonings.
  5. Pour into a serving dish, garnish with the caramelized onions on top and the pomegranate salsa all around or in a bowl. Eat at room temperature or warm.

NOTE: The date molasses adds some sweetness to the dish; it can easily be skipped, as the caramelized onions will do the job quite well.

For a traditional mujaddara with rice, click here.

For a mujaddara with bulgur, click  here.

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42 Comments

  1. Posted December 8, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I’ve got this bookmarked!!!! I don’t have date molasses, but I’ll find some kind of substitute, bcause I HAVE to make this…so this is what Jacob was making when his brother came back from hunting? It looks so delicious….I can’t really blame his brother for selling his inheritance for a bowl of this then!

  2. Posted December 8, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    This is not the kind of porridge I am used to. But I do cook multi-grains and seeds in my porridge – lentils, green beans.etc..but not in such a pudding-form.

  3. Posted December 8, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    Chocolate pudding – that is so funny! If it were anyone but you I would be surprised to see the freekeh. :) We just stuffed our Thanksgiving turkey with it this year. Can’t wait to see what you make next.

  4. Posted December 9, 2010 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    A healthy dish! That recipe is very interesting.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. Posted December 9, 2010 at 2:56 am | Permalink

    I really like the sound of this, I have made a note to try this in the not too distant future. Diane

  6. Posted December 9, 2010 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    YUM! I imagine it must be soo delicious! I LOVE legumes dishes and pomegranate is my ever weakness=) Thanks for sharing, Joumana!

  7. Posted December 9, 2010 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    that looks yum

  8. Posted December 9, 2010 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    You know I’ve never tried it with freekeh. Looks really good. Should give it a try soon!

  9. Posted December 9, 2010 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Wat a healthy and fillinf porridge..

  10. Posted December 9, 2010 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    This sounds so good and nutritious! I would love to try Freekeh! The pomegranate salsa is a great refreshing addition to the plate!

  11. Posted December 9, 2010 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Mujaddara is one of my hubby’s favorites but he likes it with rice. Your version with freekeh looks delicious (and much healthier)! I think I’ll make it for him!

  12. Posted December 9, 2010 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Forgot to ask, Joumana — do you put caramelized onion on your Mujaddara? (My hubby eats it like that.)

  13. Joumana
    Posted December 9, 2010 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    @Faith: Yes, I usually reserve some caramelized onions to put on the mujaddara.

  14. Posted December 9, 2010 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    I am giggling over here–you are a pretty talented fibber if you got your kids to think it was chocolate pudding! I adore lentils!

  15. Posted December 9, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Elle me tente beaucoup ta jolie salade de lentilles libanaises avec le blé vert. Je ne connais pas du tout ce produit… Je ne sais même pas s’il y en a en France…
    En tous les cas ça devait être délicieux… Et le principal c’est que tes enfants ont aimé ce plat.
    Bonne soirée,
    Patricia

  16. Posted December 9, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Chocolate pudding, too funny :)
    This looks and sounds delicious, I have seen freekeh in health food stores but have not tried it yet. This looks like a great one to try :)

  17. Posted December 9, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I’ll have to call by the Middle Eastern store tomorrow to pick up some ingredients. Not only healthy but also delicious. I still have some pomegranites left and am so into them right now – for me they’re the symbol of Christmas. It all looks wonderful and so fresh.

  18. SYLVIA
    Posted December 9, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    This is a powerful simple and clean recipe, and it’s nutritious heavy hitter. It makes great dinner or lunch. Joumana you make some of the greatest and healthiest Lebenese dishes.
    Freekeh is rich in fiber, it’s high protein, and has calcium and zinc. it will satisfy your appetite more than most grains, the fiber content fills your stomach and causes a slower rise in blood sugar.
    The vibrant salsa mixture with sexy pomegranates provide a cool complement in the lentil dish, and brightens up your plate, gives texture and a crunch in each bite.
    I will take it on the go with me, my colleagues are going to dive onto this meal.

  19. Posted December 9, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    I need to figure out how to make this – I love everything about it and I’m always up for a new grain! This would warm the cockles of my soul this winter.

  20. Chris
    Posted December 9, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Hello,
    Looks good! But I believe this is more like ‘mdardra’ than mujaddra.

    …btw, for those who are not familiar with this dish, it is served with a mixed salad, Lebanese bread (“pita”) and Lebanese style pickles (turnips, etc) and/or raw vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.

    mujaddra is hands down my favorite dish. My ‘tata’ used to make two pots: one for the family and one for me. :D

    Chris

  21. Posted December 9, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Date molasses? I’ve always wanted to try freekeh and the combo with pomegranate is stellar. Will add date molasses to my list.

  22. Posted December 9, 2010 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    Oh, mujaddara is SUCH comfort food. Love that stuff! Thanks for sharing this. And I’m with you regarding freekeh.

  23. Posted December 9, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Funny to have read your post as I’ve been wondering what will replace quinoa as the next big thing…you’ve convinced me that it will be Freekeh! Great post :)

  24. Posted December 10, 2010 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    That salsa looks soooo tasty. Will definitely try that with the kids tonight. Foods like this make dinnertime with children much easier as they can be so choosy.

    Getting Pregnant with PCOS

  25. Posted December 10, 2010 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    God I love your blog…

  26. Posted December 10, 2010 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    You have the most sophisticated of ingredients I want to try. I think one can make marvelous dishes from date molasses and freekeh like the one you made. I am learning a lot from your blog, a veritable treasure of exotic food. Cheers!

  27. Posted December 10, 2010 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Maybe from the time they’re born, I’ll just tell my kids that all healthy things are actually various forms of candy. That sounds like quite the ideal plan.

    This sounds dleicious! I especially love that pom salsa!

  28. Posted December 10, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Due to the fact that I’m a little too addicted to carbs…I seem to forget the continual addition of proteins and iron that should be there in the first place. You’ve got both in the dish…well done ;o)

    Flavourful wishes,
    Claudia

  29. Posted December 10, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    My next mission is now to look for freekeh and date molasse and try this dish! The pomegranate salsa sounds irresistible!

  30. Posted December 10, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    1. You look too young for having kids to leave you already.
    2. I need to serve muhaddara like a chocolate pudding – my kids are not that into it either.
    3. I have seen Freekeh, but did not know what it was and want to try it.
    4. Love the idea of pomegranate salsa
    5. Thanks for sharing: )

  31. Posted December 11, 2010 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I will definitely try the rice version of this it looks delish. Don’t think I will be able to find Freekah, It’s hard enough to get quinoa!!

  32. Posted December 11, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    So right, freekeh is totally going to be the next “it” cereal. Smoke is such a popular flavor these days that it’s bound take off.

  33. Posted December 11, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Oooh, lovely, Joumana.
    I have some freekah in the pantry and recently bought myself a bottle of date molasses – so I’m good to make this one!

  34. Posted December 11, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    This is freekehn great! Never even heard of it. Thanks, Joumana!

  35. Posted December 12, 2010 at 3:12 am | Permalink

    The loveliest thing about mujaddara is that you’re dealing with caramelized onions. And I do love caramelized onions. :)

  36. Posted December 14, 2010 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    Oh gosh, beautiful! I’ve never had green wheat (mum is allergic to wheat) but I”m sure I’d love the dense nuttiness of it. I wonder if the carob molasses I just found would work here?

  37. Joumana
    Posted December 14, 2010 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    Hannah: the only pairing I like so far with carob molasses is with tahini on a piece of pita or a plain cookie; it is like our peanut butter and jelly, a sweet thing our grandmothers would eat at the end of the meal or for a snack; I would try it with lentils just to see, sparingly at first, of course! :)

  38. Posted December 23, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Oh gosh, beautiful! I’ve never had green wheat (mum is allergic to wheat) but I”m sure I’d love the dense nuttiness of it. I wonder if the carob molasses I just found would work here?

  39. Posted April 27, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Freekah *is* produced in the US! By an organic farm in New York: http://www.cporganics.com. I am lucky to get my grains from them.

    Sorry, I’m a little behind on this post, but I just decided to make some mujaddara!

  40. Joumana
    Posted April 27, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    @Cheftometrist: This is fantastic news! Thanks!!!!!

  41. Posted April 27, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    My pleasure! I’m always happy to pass along such info when I have it. Enjoy!

  42. sp
    Posted January 28, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    I made this last week, using onions I’d caramelized in the slow cooker, and pomegranate molasses since that’s what I had in the cabinet. It turned out great! I’m a vegetarian and appreciate all the veggie recipes you’ve posted. There are so many I want to try! Thanks for a great blog.

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