By Silvia Nacamulli , May 16, 2014

This wonderful quintessentially Middle Eastern dish is a combination of rice, lentils and onions, and exquisite spices.

Serves: 6
Cooking: 30 minutes

8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp rock salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground caraway
1 cinnamon stick
250g mix of red Camargue, brown basmati and wild rice; or plain basmati rice
3 onions, finely sliced
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sweet paprika
200ml olive/sunflower oil
150g green or brown lentils, rinsed
1 tbsp plain white flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp chopped pistachio and/or parsley to decorate


Heat 4 tbsp of olive oil in a pan big enough to cook the rice. Add the rock salt, cumin, turmeric, caraway and cinnamon stick.

Sauté for a minute and add the rice. Stir and sauté for another minute. Add 500ml water, stir and cover. Bring to the boil and simmer until all the water is absorbed and the rice is just tender. Generally 20-25 minutes for mixed rice or 10-15 for plain basmati.

Fill another pan with the lentils and plenty of cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Drain. Only add salt just before draining to prevent the lentils splitting.

In a large non-stick frying pan, warm up the remaining 4 tbsp of olive oil. When hot add 2 of the 3 onions, the sugar, paprika and a little salt and pepper. Cook on a low flame, covered and stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes until the onion is soft, caramelised and golden.

When both lentils and onions are cooked, combine them and sauté on a low flame for a couple of minutes. Keep aside covered until ready to serve.

Dust the remaining raw onion with flour and salt and fry for 3-4 minutes in olive/sunflower oil. Drain and keep aside.

When everything is cooked transfer the rice in a serving platter and mix in ¾ of the lentils and onion. Scatter over the fried onions, pistachios and parsley on top .

Serve hot or warm.

Last updated: 2:45pm, May 16 2014