Chef Mica Talmor’s Majadra with Lamb Kefta

Deep-fried onions are a memorable feature of Chef Mica Talmor’s majadra.

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Chef Mica Talmor’s Majadra with Lamb Kefta

  • Author: Chef Mica Talmor
  • Yield: Serves 8


Popular throughout the Arab world, this spiced lentils and rice dish is most often served with a generous swirl of tahini sauce and a topping of fried onions. For Chef Mica Talmor of Pomella in Oakland, the fried onions are a high art. While many places caramelize them for several hours, Chef Mica fries them until crisp and dries them overnight by the heat of the pilot in a gas oven.

*Majadra goes by many names. Whether it’s called majadera, mujaddara, mejadra, moujadara, mudardara, or megadarra, it’s always a nutritious and delicious delight.


Units Scale

For the fried onions

  • 2 or 3 yellow onions
  • 3 to 4 cups canola oil, depending on the size of the pot

For the lentils and rice

  • 4 ounces petite French green lentils (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups white basmati rice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 23 tablespoons canola oil

For the lamb kefta

  • 2 1/2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 bunch mint, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, avoid large stems, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 ounce puréed garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 ounces toasted pine nuts (about 1/4 cup)

For the tahini-yogurt sauce

  • 2 cups low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup raw tahini
  • 1 garlic clove, puréed (about 3/4 teaspoons)
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper


To make the fried onions: Slice the onions thinly (by hand or with a mandoline), making sure slices are the same size so they’ll cook evenly. Put ¼ cup oil in a large skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the onions, and sauté them for 8 to 10 minutes, until they lose most of their moisture.

Heat a pot of oil to 350° and set up a tray lined with paper towels. With a slotted spoon, transfer a few onion slices at a time from the skillet to the pot (do not overcrowd), frying until lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on the towel-lined tray. Sprinkle with salt and then place in a very low oven overnight or in a 200° warming drawer for an hour.

If you don’t want to do this multi-stepped process, Chef Mica recommends skipping the sauté stage and deep-frying them a bit longer. Or just caramelize them in a skillet for about 30 minutes.

To make the majadra (lentils and rice): Fill a small saucepan with cold water, add lentils, bring to a boil, and turn heat down to a simmer. Cook until lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and then rinse in cold water.

Measure the spices, salt, and sugar into a small bowl. Pour the oil into a medium pot and heat it until it shimmers. Add the spice mixture and sauté, stirring frequently, for 1–2 minutes: It should bubble without burning. Add the rice, stirring to coat each grain, then sauté for a few more minutes, stirring constantly until the rice turns opaque. Pour 2¼ cups of hot or boiling water into the pot and add the lentils. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to a simmer, then cover the pot tightly and cook for 13 to 15 minutes. When done, turn off the heat, fluff rice with a fork, cover again, and allow the rice to steam for another 10 minutes. Remove lid and fluff again before serving.

To make the kefta: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Chop the mint, parsley, and onion by hand and then mix together with the lamb, garlic, spices, and pine nuts. Shape onto a metal skewer, if desired, or into a sausage shape. Cook for 5 minutes in the oven on a tray, and then finish on the grill, on a grill pan, or in a skillet until all sides are browned.

To make the tahini-yogurt sauce: Combine yogurt, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes for flavors to meld. Taste and adjust with salt and lemon juice as needed.

To plate: Place a layer of majadra in a shallow bowl. Place two lamb kefta on top. Liberally drizzle with about ¼ cup tahini-yogurt sauce, then top with a handful of fried onions.


  • Category: Entrée