lentils and rice with caramelised onions

January 21, 2011

This is starting to become a staple in the Eating for England household and I’m so excited to share it with you for that reason. I’d like to share more of our “normal” meals with you and not just the ones that I go round-the-bend with excitement for. I found this in my favourite cookbook one night when we were seriously limited on groceries and I knew I’d have to delve deep into the pantry to come up with anything good.

It’s a simple Middle Eastern recipe and it’s the kind of thing that is so easy to throw together in a pinch that you’ll be sorry you didn’t hear about it or think of it til now. The three main ingredients are in the name: it’s literally rice and french lentils, lovingly and slowly cooked together in some deliciously flavourful broth and topped with perfectly carmelised onions. For the record, I am not a caramelised onion fan and I die for them in this dish. Die.

Cook up a big pot this weekend and it will serve you well for warming, delicious, healthy lunches all week long. I promise you won’t regret it for a second.

Lentils and Rice with Caramelised Onions

from How to Cook Everything


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped, plus 1 large or 2 medium onions, halved and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups lentils, washed and picked over
  • About 6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock (to make your own, see here) or water, warmed
  • 1 cup long- or short-grain rice
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish (no big deal if you don’t have any. I served this batch with steamed spinach!)


  1. Put 1 tbsp of the oil into a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the chopped onion and cook until it begins to become tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and some salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes more. Add the lentils, stir, and add about 4 cups liquid.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils begin to soften, about 20 minutes. Add enough of the stock or water so that the lentils are covered by about an inch of liquid. Stir in the rice. Cover and turn the heat to low.
  3. Meanwhile, put the remaining two tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, cook the onion slices, stirring frequently, until they are dark brown but not burned, about 15 minutes. Scoop out the onions and let the drain on a paper towel while you finish cooking the lentils and rice.
  4. Check the rice and lentils after 20 minutes. When both are tender and the liquid are absorbed, the dish is ready. If the lentils and rice are not tender, add more liquid, cover, and cook for a few ore minutes. If the rice and lentils are soft and there is much liquid remaining raise the heat and cook, uncovered, stirring, until it evaporates. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary and serve, garnished with the caramelised onions and parsley.
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