Peru meets the Middle East in Vancouver {Quinoa Mujadara}

You could call this cultural appropriation.

Or a culinary travesty.

Or you could just call it good!

Mujadara is a Middle Eastern dish that’s traditionally made with white rice, lentils, and onions.

Lots and lots of caramelized onions.

Quinoa Mujadara

Quinoa Mujadara

In this version, we’re keeping those onions, cause they’re the key flavour component in the dish.

Quinoa Mujadara

Quinoa Mujadara

We’re including some traditional spices, like cumin and cinnamon.

And we’re bringing Peru along for the ride by swapping out the white rice for quinoa.

Finally, I’m throwing in a little Vancouver spirit into the dish with a big nod to where I first had mujadara, which is an excellent local restaurant chain called Nuba.

It’s been a while since I’ve been there but I recall that they always served their mujadara with avocado slices and since that’s such a delicious pairing, I’m doing the same here.

eating together made easy

This dish is naturally plant-based, so it’s perfect for vegans. If you’re a reducetarian — which is someone who’s reducing their animal and dairy consumption, this is a great dish to add to your repertoire.

Quinoa mujadara is an excellent option if you’re dining with a mixed group of eaters (vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores), since it easily swings from side to main.  In upcoming posts, I’ll be adding some recipes that will pair well with this.

Let’s get cooking!


  • 4 cups of onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • optional, 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup of uncooked quinoa, plus 2 cups of water for cooking.
  • 1/2 cup of uncooked brown lentils, plus 2 cups of water for cooking.
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • optional, 1/2 teaspoon of hot chili powder. {Or sub with black pepper}
  • to serve, avocado slices


Equipment note: I cook the onions in a large frying pan that has a lid. I don’t put the lid on while cooking the onions but I use the same pan later, with the lid, when cooking the quinoa. This saves cleaning a pan. Yes, I am that lazy. If you don’t have a frying pan with a lid, you can cook the quinoa in a separate pan. 

  1. In a large heavy frying pan, heat the oil until hot, then add the sliced onions. Keep the heat on medium high until the onions are starting to turn golden.
  2. Stir in the salt and sugar, if using. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions are dark brown. This takes about 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, cook the lentils:
    • In a saucepan, add the lentils and 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and boil vigorously for about 10 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed.
    • Turn the heat down to a simmer, add in 1/2 cup of water, and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. The lentils should be soft but not mushy.
    • Turn the heat off until the quinoa is cooked.
  4. Once the onions are done, remove them from the pan and set aside. (This is if  you have a lid for the frying pan and can cook the quinoa in the same pan.)
  5. With the pan on medium heat, add the quinoa and toast for a few minutes until slightly brown. This will create a lovely nutty aroma!
  6. Carefully add 2 cups of water to the pan. Bring the water to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Stir in the cinnamon, cumin, and hot chili powder (or pepper).
  7. Put the lid on and cook for about 10 minutes until the water is almost absorbed. In the final minutes, stir in the lentils, and most of the onions (leave some for garnish).
  8. It’s done! Garnish with the remaining onions and slices of avocado

Pin it for later!

Quinoa Mujadara

Quinoa Mujadara

About the Beautiful Blue Plate

The gorgeous blue plate in the photos was made by a talented friend of mine, a local potter named Ninna. A favourite piece of hers, she graciously offered the plate to me when she saw how enamoured I was with it! Thank you Ninna!

You too can get your hands on Ninna’s pottery. She and her husband run Muckabout Gift Gallery and Studio. As well as Ninna’s pieces, they sell the work of a variety of local artists, and they run all sorts of fun arts and crafts classes, for people of all ages.

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