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Quinoa Mujuadara

Traditionally made with caramelized onions, lentils and white rice - this recipe swaps out the rice for quinoa. Simply spiced with cumin and a touch of cinnamon, this versatile recipe makes a great entree or side. And it can be served hot or cold. 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keyword: middle eastern dish, middle eastern recipe, quinoa mujadara
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 279kcal
Author: sylvia


  • 4 cups onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 1 cup quinoa uncooked
  • 2 cups water (for cooking the quinoa)
  • 1/2 cup brown lentils uncooked
  • 2 cups water (for cooking the lentils)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot chili powder (optional. Or sub with black pepper)
  • 1 avocado, sliced (optional, for serving)


  • Cook the onions: 
    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.
    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, about 30 to 40 minutes.
    If you have a lid that fits this pan, you can use this same pan to cook the quinoa once the onions are done. Just remove the onions and set aside during the initial quinoa cooking step. 
  • 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 and set the pan aside. 
  • Cook the quinoa:
    Use a large frying pan with a lid. (I use the same one that I used for the onions - I just set the cooked onions aside temporarily).
    Heat the pan to medium heat, then add the quinoa and toast for a few minutes until slightly brown. This will create a lovely nutty aroma!
    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).
    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).
  • To serve, garnish with the remaining onions and slices of avocado. 


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.
Storage and Leftovers
  • This will keep well in the fridge for at least 3 days if not longer.
  • You can serve this hot or cold.
  • Reheat it in a low temperature oven, or a microwave.
Nutritional Information
Nutritional information is an estimate and does not include topping with avocado or extra onions. 


Serving: 6servings | Calories: 279kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 410mg | Potassium: 445mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 50IU | Vitamin C: 5.9mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 3mg