This classic Middle Eastern dish is simple yet loaded with beautiful, bright, complementary flavors. The fresh, aromatic mint, warming spices, creamy spiced yogurt, and savory lentils makes a brilliant combination. This is a date night favorite in our house.
- 1 large yellow onion or 2 small onions, sliced into strips
- 1/2 cup brown or green lentils
- 1 cup yogurt of choice (I use vegan yogurt) 8 oz
- 1/2 cup white or brown basmati rice dry
- 2 Tbsp 1 oz olive oil
Condiments & Spices
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- fresh mint to garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika omit if avoiding nightshades
- Juice & zest of half a lemon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Begin cooking the rice, plain, according to your preferred method.
- In a small saucepan, combine the lentils with the garlic, bay leaf, cumin, 1/4 tsp salt, black pepper, and 1 cup of vegetable broth and simmer, uncovered, over low heat for 25-30 minutes or until fully cooked.
- In a large skillet (I prefer cast-iron), heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the onions along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir every few minutes. The goal is to carmelize the until they are very soft, charred, sweet, and delicious. This should take about as long as the rice and lentils.
- Stir the remaining spices into the yogurt to make a spiced yogurt sauce. This is delicious as either a thicker dollop of yogurt or a thinner sauce for drizzling.
- When the rice and lentils are cooked serve separately or mixed together, and garnish with fresh mint, yogurt sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.
If you don’t eat grains, you can just enjoy the lentils and veggies without the rice. The yogurt sauce and mint is delicious over anything.
The yogurt sauce can be made two different ways, it can be thinner like a sauce, or a thick dollop like greek yogurt. I like both. If you want thicker yogurt, you can strain thinner vegan yogurt for a little while in a coffee filter or fine cheesecloth.
The most time consuming part of this dish is carmelizing the onions. You really want to let them cook until they are really soft and browned, maybe even blackened – at least 25 minutes. For softer onions, cook on a lower heat, and for crispier onions cook on higher heat.