[Sca-cooks] Mujadara vs. muzawwara, related or not?

lilinah@earthlink.net lilinah at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 9 13:09:41 PDT 2006

While trying to track down the source of "mujadara", i find that some 
recipes do not include rice, but rather bulgur wheat. And i find many 
people stating that it is very very essential to top the dish with 
caramelized onions.

Now, on to the relationship/meaning of the words "mujadara" and "muzawwara".

First, neither "mujadara" nor "muzawwara" means "lentils" in Arabic. 
The word for lentils is " 'adas". There are lentil dishes in numerous 
SCA-period and modern cookbooks called 'Adas and 'Adasiyya.

Second, I VERY STRONGLY suspect that the names only sound similar to 
we who don't speak Arabic. The "mu-" is a suffix. And the final "-a" 
is just a feminine ending, not indicative of meaning. So it becomes a 
questions of whether there is truly a similarity of root and meaning 
between "jadar" and "zawwar"...

Third, now we get to the meanings:
A. Muzawwara
Charles Perry explains the source of "muzawwara":
in his article in the on-line Saudi Aramco magazine, Cooking With the Caliphs:
"The book gives only a few vegetarian dishes, called muzaw-waraat 
(literally, "counterfeit" dishes, which reminds us of the Turkish 
name for vegetables with a meatless stuffing: yalanci dolma, "lying 
dolma"). They were known as the dishes that Christians ate on fast 
days, and they were thought to be good for the health-and they had 
indeed been introduced by the Nestorian Christian physicians favored 
by the caliphs. There were also cold dishes, sometimes 
vegetable-based but more often containing meat, called baaridah. Some 
of them are probably descended from the pre-Islamic Persian dishes 
called aamiz."

B. Mujadara
According to what i've read, the word "mujadara" suggests that the 
final dish looks "pock marked", which the round lentils may give to 
the surface of the rice or bulghur.

So there may be some superficial similarities between the dishes, and 
"mujadara" may be a sub-set of "muzaw-warat", but they are not the 
same thing. One is a specific dish and one is a class of dishes.
Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list