Pack Lunch: Superbaba’s Abdallah El Chami shows you how to make Mujadara

The Middle Eastern lentil and rice dish can be enjoyed hot or cold

Abdallah El Chami—chef and owner of Superbaba, a beloved Middle Eastern restaurant with locations in Vancouver and Victoria—offers a quick and easy Mujadara (lentil and rice) recipe to pack for the office.

Superbaba chef and owner Abdallah El Chami shares an easy lentil and rice recipe for work lunches.
Credit: Superbaba/Abdallah El Chami


  • 3 medium or 2 large yellow onions
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • ¾ cup medium-grain rice
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil, divided
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1¼ tsp salt


Prep the onions by slicing them along the grain to create long strips. Set aside, keeping the yellow and red onions separate. Measure out the rice and lentils separately. Wash and set aside.

Place the lentils in a deep saucepan and cover with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on medium-high for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender with a slight bite.

Pour a ½ cup of vegetable oil and the olive oil into a separate deep saucepan and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the oil is hot, sauté the yellow onions until tender and almost caramelized.

Keep an eye on the lentils—when they’re ready, remove from heat, drain, and then return to the pan. Transfer the sautéed yellow onions (with the oil in the pan) to the saucepan containing the lentils. Add the rice and spices, and stir to mix well.

Add 1½ cups of water, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.   

In the same pan you used to cook the yellow onions, add ¼ cup of vegetable oil and fry the red onion until completely crisp and caramelized.

When the lentils and rice are done, remove from the heat, quickly open and cover pan with a clean kitchen towel, then place the lid back on. This step will allow the rice to steam while removing any condensation that would make the mixture feel wet. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Uncover and use a fork or wooden spoon to stir and fluff.