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Moudardara: Lebanese Rice and Lentils

Moudardara is a Lebanese rice and lentil dish that gets topped with caramelised onions and saffron. 

The key with Moudardara is to cook the onions very slowly to caramelise them which takes up to 40 minutes, but its worth it for the unctuous sweet caramelised taste that contrasts with the earthy lentils and saffron rice. We like to serve this with stir-fried Cavolo nero and roasted onion squash.

For a quick demo of how to make this fabulous dish, check out our Moudardara how-to video

Moudardara: Lebanese Rice and Lentils

Dietary: Vegan, Gluten Free | Serves 2 


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lightly crushed cumin seeds
  • 90g basmati rice
  • 160ml boiling water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch saffron threads
  • 50g cooked brown lentils
  • 1 tsp dried barberries, soaked for 10 minutes (or use chopped unsweetened cranberries)
  • chopped parsley
  • chopped tarragon
  • chopped dill
  • 2 tbsps fried onions
  • 1 tbsp chopped pistachios


  1. Put the olive oil, cumin seeds and rice into a saucepan and fry gently for 1 minute, making sure the rice is coated in oil.
  2. Add the boiling water and salt. Put a lid on and simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the rice to sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, soak the saffron in 1 tablespoon of boiling water and set aside.
  4. When the rice is ready, pour the saffron water over the surface. Cover the pan immediately with the lid. Leave for 5 minutes.
  5. Fluff the rice up with a fork.
  6. Drain the barberries and stir them into the rice along with the herbs. Stir the lentils through and serve in a dish, topped with fried onions and pistachios.

Cooking the Lentils:

  1. Brown lentils do not need soaking, simple wash and drain them. 
  2. Place them in a pan with plenty of water, a bay leaf and an onion, copped in half. 
  3. Simmer gently for 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft.

Making the Fried Onions:

  1. Slice 2 large onions. 
  2. Heat 2 tbsp ghee and rapeseed oil. 
  3. Put one slice in if it sizzles then add the rest and add a pinch of salt, sugar and a good grating of pepper. 
  4. Make sure all the slices are separated and coated in oil. 
  5. Turn down the heat and leave it to cook slowly and become a very dark caramelised colour. This might take 30-40 minutes.

Delicious food photography by Rob Wicks of Eat Pictures.

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mrswoo on 11th Jun 2015 said:

I have eaten moudardara for years I love it and in all that time it has never been yellow, nor yet contained saffron. Where does your recipe come from ?

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Rachel Demuth on 12th Jun 2015 said:

We have adapted a traditional Moudardara as we wanted to add colour and teach our students how to add saffron to rice and achieve a mix of yellow and white rice grains. We have also added barberries for more colour contrast, texture and flavour.
How do you make your Moudardara? Would love to know.

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Bizhan on 21st Jan 2016 said:

This looks like a Persian dish which is one of my favourites. I’ll try your recipe soon.
If you like to know how we make it, search google for “adaspolo”. You will find different varieties depending from which part of the country they come from.
Incidently, in the Persian language adas is lentil and polo is cooked rice.

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Monica at Demuths on 21st Jan 2016 said:

Cheers, Bizhan! There are certainly many variations on this concept - all delicious! We love to experiment with recipes and will look into a Persian adaptation. We sometimes have Persian classes at the cookery school if you want to keep an eye out:

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Hermine Naoum on 5th Jun 2016 said:

Je suis un peu étonnée du résultat.
Moudjadara est un plat typique Libanais que j’adore. Ne nous égarons pas trop dans les ingrédients.  Restons simples. Merci.

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Steve Newport on 23rd Jan 2017 said:

Made this and was very nice although I would make the following two comments (no doubt my lack of technical capability). Could not (and never can) get saffron to colour anything; goes yellow but never shows when I use it. Also, cooking the lentils with an onion and bay leaf confused me as it did not seem to impart any flavour to it at all. I used black beluga lentils so perhaps the outer skin prevented the flavour being absorbed? However, very good end result and will do again!

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