Lebanese Lentils & Rice with Caramelised Onions

Cooking time
Serves2 people
Lebanese Lentils & Rice with Caramelised Onions

Prep: 15-20 mins | Cook: 30 mins

2 ratings
layout 2 comments


  • 4 red onions
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 75g white basmati rice
  • 2 oranges
  • 75g rocket
  • 35g walnuts
  • 400g green lentils
  • 200ml boiling water
  • A large handful of flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • A few pinches of ground cinnamon
  • 150g Greek style yogurt

Gorgeous food from the Levant. Spiced onions that have been cooked to sticky sweetness combine beautifully with rice and lentils. An orange and rocket salad on the side keeps things fresh.

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1. Peel and very finely slice 3 of the onions. Warm a frying pan over a low heat for 1 min, then add ½ tbsp olive oil and the onions. Season well with salt and pepper. Very gently cook, stirring now and then, for 30 mins till the onions are dark brown, caramelised and soft. Keep the heat low.
2. While the onions cook, tip the rice into a large bowl and cover with cold water. Whisk for 1-2 mins till the water goes cloudy (this is the starch). Drain, tip back into the bowl and cover with more cold water. Leave to soak.
3. Make the salad: peel and very finely slice the remaining onion. Slice the tops and bottoms off the oranges so they sit up on a board. Slice the peel and pith off them, then slice into thin rounds. Roughly chop the walnuts.
4. Arrange the sliced orange and red onion on a plate. Top with handfuls of rocket and the walnuts. Drizzle with ½ tbsp oil and a little salt and pepper. Set aside.
5. Drain the rice, rinse and tip into a large pan. Drain the lentils, rinse and add to the pan too. Pour in 200 ml boiling water. Add a pinch of salt. Cover and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 10-12 mins till the rice is tender and the water is absorbed.
6. Finely chop the parsley stalks (keep the leaves for later). Stir the stalks into the onions. Add 1 tsp ground cumin, along with a pinch or two of cayenne and ground cinnamon (see our tip). Cook and stir for 2 mins, then taste and season if you think it needs it.
7. Take the rice and lentils off the heat. Fluff up with a fork to loosen the rice. Add the caramelised onions to the rice and lentils and stir to mix. Spoon into warm bowls. Garnish with parsley leaves. Serve with spoonfuls of Greek yogurt and the salad.
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(I didn't make the accompanying salad - I only had the walnuts which I crushed toasted and added to the rice) This is a tasty side dish but not really satisfying as a main, rice salad, type meal - lacks oomph as another reviewer put it. It's similar to a pilaf. It's simple to prepare and would go well with lots of other things - eggs, meat, possibly fish, tofu etc. I added toasted seeds and roasted carrot hummus, which went well. I assumed the the green lentil quantity in the recipe is wet weight, This is approx 100g of dried lentils.



Interesting recipe with the onions giving it the special touch. A satisfying meal which seems quite light. I found the preparation a bit too much effort for a week-day meal though (and the outcome didn't quite have enough oomph to make a good special Sunday meal). Good try but would only make it again if I am a bit bored or could prepare something else at the same time.