One-Pot Mujadara with Leeks and Kale


Mujadara, a Lebanese medley of onions, rice and lentils, is delicious proof that the simplest of recipes can sometimes be the most satisfying and flavorful.

I came across a recipe for a one-pot version of this already easy-to-make dish in the New York Times while looking for dinner inspiration the other night. I was captivated. Mujadara is typically started by caramelizing onions but the cook in this case had used leeks. She had also cooked the lentils and rice together instead of cooking the lentils first as most recipes would do. And she had added greens to the pot too, making it a true one-pot meal and a supremely healthy one at that.
But the best part of it all was the time required to make the recipe. Just 35 minutes. How could I say no?
So I pulled out my big pot and my lentils and my rice and some wonderful spring greens and kale that were sitting in the refrigerator and went to work. I increased the flavor by adding more garlic and cayenne than the recipe called for. And I did have one brainwave that I used to ensure that the lentils did cook thoroughly because lentils take longer to cook than rice. The New York Times recommended soaking them for 10 minutes, but I put them in a microwave-safe bowl, covered them with an inch of water, and then I zapped them for seven minutes before adding them to the pot. When the dish was all ready the lentils were perfectly tender without  being mushy and the rice was not overcooked. Divine.
This is an almost foolproof recipe and it packs so much flavor for so little work that it’s almost criminal. Oh, and did I say it was quick? But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s the recipe.
5.0 from 1 reviews
One-Pot Mujadara with Leeks and Kale
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Course
Serves: 8
  • 2 leeks, cleaned thoroughly. Trim the roots and slice the white and green parts into thin ribbons (use a large onion if you can’t find leeks)
  • 1 cup brown lentils (whole masoor, sabut masoor). Place in a microwave-safe bowl with enough water to cover the lentils by an inch, then microwave for about seven minutes. You can do this while chopping your vegetables. Drain the lentils.
  • ¾ cup basmati or other long-grain rice
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp allspice powder
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-inch stick of cinnamon
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups leafy greens (use any combination of vegetables. I used 3 cups of spring greens and 1 cup of baby kale), finely chopped
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the leeks and saute, stirring, over medium-high heat until the leeks are golden and crispy, about 8 minutes. If you use too little oil the leeks won’t crisp up.
  2. Remove half the leeks to a bowl and sprinkle with a little salt while still warm.
  3. To the pot with the remaining leeks, add the garlic and bay leaves, stir for about 30 seconds, and then add the cumin, allspice and cayenne. Stir for a few seconds to coat with the oil and then add the rice. Saute for a few seconds until the rice turns opaque.
  4. Add the drained lentils, cinnamon, and salt to taste. Stir well, then add 4 cups of water.
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to low until the water just simmers. Place a tight-fitting lid on the pot and let it steam away for 15 minutes.
  6. Open the pot, arrange the greens on top in an even layer, cover, and cook for five more minutes. Turn off the heat.
  7. Let the mujadara stand at least 10 minutes before opening the pot. Garnish with the reserved leeks and serve hot.
Mujadara recipe
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  1. says

    This is the most gorgeous bowl of mujadara I’ve ever seen and it sounds lovely with leeks and greens – I’m adding it to my bookmarks. Also thanks for the quick lentil cooking tip in the microwave, I’m definitely going to give that a try.

  2. Debbie says

    Oh, yum! I can’t wait to try. I was all excited and then I realized I use brown rice in my cooking. So, how would that work? Maybe cook it for like 1 – 1 1/2 hours and then add it? I would welcome any suggestions.

    • says

      Hi Debbie, Brown rice would definitely work here– soak it for about 30 minutes, increase the water to 5 cups and cook for 45 minutes instead of 20. Also you don’t need to microwave the lentils first because they will cook longer in the pot. Cheers.

      • ChannonD says

        This was my first question too. I still have one more…. we prefer our lentils just barely done and still firm. Given that, and skipping the microwave step, I would like to add them later. How much later would you think? Oh, one more factor that may affect your answer – my husband only really likes green lentils as they best hold their shape. Thanks so much!

  3. Anonymous says

    I just came across this post from another link, and had just had a near-mujadara experience with roasted cauliflower (purple & green with black mustard seeds & cumin seeds), brown rice, and a lime/garlic/yogurt sauce (soak the minced garlic in lemon or lime juice while everything’s being prepared, then mix in the yogurt). I wished I’d had lentils, and will next time! This is another great variation.

  4. says

    I just want to thank you thoroughly for your blog—not only does this recipe look delicious, but I made the Tofu Makhani two weeks in a row, once for my friend and his family, and it is one of the greatest vegan hits I’ve come across to date! Makhani was one of my favorite North Indian dishes before turning to a plant-based diet, and my, oh my, have you captured the essence of it with your recipe.
    Best wishes, Vaishali :).

    • says

      Matthew, thank you for your very kind words. I am thrilled you liked the makhani–it was always my favorite too because of that haunting texture. I appreciate the feedback very much!

  5. says

    I love mujadara and almost always made it as a one pot meal. I’ve caramalized onions seperately to toss – which makes it a slightly lengthy dish. Nice addition of greens and leeks here. It certainly makes it a complete meal now!

  6. says

    I have made mujaddara in the past but I had leeks sitting in the fridge and greens while I came across this recipe. I made your recipe tonight and my 5-year old son and husband asked for seconds and thirds. Then, they asked me when I would make it again. Definitely a keeper for us. Thanks
    And I rarely comment, so….

  7. says

    Vaishali, that looks absolutely FABULOUS! I’ve only just made a very basic version of this dish for the first time, and loved it. Your take on it is a huge step up, thank you, I know I’m going to love this. (And thanks Nanette for the headsup!) :)

  8. Stephanie says

    I am very excited to try this, but we got rid of our microwave and now just have a toaster oven and a stove. I’m not sure what the texture of the lentils should be, or how much they should be cooked after they come out of the microwave. Would you be able to give me some pointers on how to proceed without a microwave? Thanks!

  9. Mamta says

    Hi Vaishali I tried this recipe with brown rice, I first time used kale, and leeks, and it came out really well, very different and healthy recipe, thanks

  10. Gayathri Bhandarkar says

    I made this last night – it was delicious! I am looking forward to my packed lunch today. To go with it – I made your silken tofu based Raita! YUM!

  11. Barbara says

    my leeks were going to flower, so I hurriedly tried this…WOW! Even my very picky relatives (and grandchildren) loved it! I’ve shared it numerous times now… Thank you for this easy and exquisite recipe!

  12. Remya says

    This looks great and i want to try making it.
    But I dont have whole masoor dal.. Would split masoor dal work? Or can you suggest some other which might?
    Thanks in advance!


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