This recipe is classic Middle Eastern Food. It is also easy to make and so delicious that you won't be able to stop eating it. The recipe I've included here, of course, is a variation on the traditional. This is a dish that is often eaten during Lent and for that reason usually remains vegetarian, but in this recipe I've included chicken broth. I also used long grain rice (basmati, actually) but you can use brown rice if you want to make it healthier (but you'll have to increase the liquid and cooking time). And while much of the flavor comes from the caramelized onion, I also added broken pieces of vermicelli which were browned with the onion. While I kept the seasonings simple, you can add a pinch of cumin, cinnamon, allspice, or hot pepper. I did add a pinch of turmeric for color (though it is not included in the recipe); hence it's yellow hue. I made this for staff lunch today while at work, and my only problem with it is that I packaged up a container of leftovers for dinner and forgot it in the fridge at work...
Anyhow, this is really easy to make and super delicious. It can be used as a side dish or eaten as a main course. It can also be serve hot, at room temp, or even chilled. Here's the recipe and a few pictures of it being prepared.
(For additional Lebanese/Middle Easter inspired recipes, click here.)
(Lebanese Lentils and Rice)
Makes 8-10 servings
½ pound lentils
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
¼ pound vermicelli, broken into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups long-grain rice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups hot chicken broth or water
Boil the lentils in plenty of lightly salted water until just cooked. Then drain them and set aside. Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat and add the onions. Cook the onions—while stirring—for about 10 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Add the vermicelli to the onions and continue to cook until the pasta begins to change color as well. Add the garlic and cook it for a minute or so, then stir in the rice, salt, and broth. Bring the liquid to a boil then lower it to a simmer. Stir the rice once, then cover the pot. Simmer the rice for about 15 minutes then add the cooked and drained lentils to the post without stirring. Re-cover the pot and cook the rice for an additional 3 or 4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Just before serving, gently stir in the lentils and fluff the rice. This dish is delicious hot, at room temperature, or chilled.