Mujaddara: Middle Eastern Dish History

Mujaddara is one of the oldest dishes of the Middle Eastern cuisine. The oldest recorded recipe for the dish appears in a cookbook from 1226 A.D. titled “Kitab al Tabikh” meaning “The Book of Dishes (Chovanec).” The dish originated with the need to provide maximum nutrition with the least amount of money. Therefore, it was popular among the lower classes of the Middle Eastern countries. The country of origin is unknown, but it is universally popular in the Eastern Mediterranean region, and some South African countries like Egypt. The popularity of the dish has led to a variety of names in different countries of the Middle East. For example, it is known as Mujaddara in Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine, while in Syria and Egypt it is known as Mudardara. These names also come with many regional spellings like Mejadara, Moujadara, and Megadarra. Like many other Middle Eastern dishes, it is vegetarian-friendly which reflects its origin as a dish of the lower classes. Meat would be too expensive to feed a whole family, but a dish like Mujaddara would fill that need for nutrition (Shaheen). The name of the dish means “pockmarked” and refers to the appearance of lentils among rice. This dish is also popular among the Jewish community of the Egyptian and Syrian origins due to its relation to the Bible. Sometimes called Esau’s favorite, it refers to the passage that hints at Esau selling his birthright for a pot of rice porridge. This belief, however, is often debated as the passage could have different interpretations. Nevertheless, mujadara is cooked at least twice a week in Orthodox Jewish households and eaten hot on Thursday evening, and cold on Sunday Morning (“Mujaddara”).

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Works Cited

“Mujaddara.”, 2017, Web.

Chovanec, Nora. “Edible History: Mujadara.” Abbot & West, 2013, Web.

Mueller, Melissa. “Lentils and Rice with Fried Onions (Mujadarrah).” allrecipes, 2017, Web.

Shaheen, Blanche. “The Magic of Mujaddara…” Feast in the Middle East, 2014, Web.

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StudyCorgi. 2020. "Mujaddara: Middle Eastern Dish History." October 8, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Mujaddara: Middle Eastern Dish History'. 8 October.

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