Lentils and Rice (M'jaddarah)



  • 1 cup large green or brown lentils
  • 9 cups water
  • 7 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely sliced
  • 1/8 cup white short grain rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Salt to taste.  Spread the lentils on a tray and pick them clean of any impurities. Put them in a sieve and rinse them under cold water before putting them in a saucepan. Add the water and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium -- give the lentils a good stir in case some have stuck to the bottom of the pan -- and boil gently for 1 hour or until the lentils are tender and the water has reduced by two-thirds.

In the meantime, put the oil in a frying pan, place over a medium heat and when hot, fry the sliced onions until they become soft and transparent; remove half with a slotted spoon and put onto a plate.  Continue frying the rest of the onions until they caramelize and turn a rich dark brown, without actually letting them burn (this will take awhile).

Remove onions with a slotted spoon and put to drain onto several layers of paper towels, spreading them thinly so that they drain well and become crispy. Rinse the rice in a sieve under running cold water, drain and set aside.

When the lentils are cooked, add the soft onions and their frying oil, and the washed rice. Season with cinnamon, allspice, pepper and salt to taste and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the rice is done and the mixture has thickened, without letting it dry out. Taste, adjust seasonings if necessary, and pour immediately into a shallow serving bowl. Leave to cool before scattering over the caramelized onions

Serve at room temperature.