Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Lebanese Lentils

Photo by me.

When I was at college I lived for a couple of years with a brilliant bloke called Tarek who was mad as a box of frogs. Inbetween the rather intense performance poetry sessions I'd occasionally come home to, he introduced me to an early version of this dish, which I've tweaked and played with over the years. It's a bit of winner in our house.


One cup of puy lentils
One cup of basmati rice
3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil
A medium sized onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
100g chopped chestnut mushrooms
Zest of a lemon
Two tablespoons of finely chopped coriander (fresh if poss)
One tablespoon of sugar
Two teaspoons salt
Pepper to taste


Cook the puy lentils (25 min or so) and the basmati rice (10 min or so) separately, rinse in cold water, and set to one side. I used to try and cook them together in a classic student 'one pot' approach, but it discolours the rice, so definitely keep them apart until you're ready.

Next take the onion and start frying it, preferably in a wok, in the olive oil. Give it a minute or so, until it's softened and is translucent, then add the garlic. After a couple of minutes, as the mixture starts to brown, add the sugar, to let the onions caramelise a little. When the onions and garlic are golden brown, add the mushrooms, lemon zest, salt and coriander. Continue cooking until the mushrooms brown lightly and start to release their juice.

Next tip in the rice and lentils, and mix through thoroughly. Add the lemon juice, stir through, and then season with some pepper. And if you've got any fresh coriander left hanging around, use it as a garnish.

Last night I served it with a green salad and the rescued baked spuds I've included below. Also works brilliantly with pitta bread.

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