This is a spectacular, spicy, sweet, comforting dish from the book “Jerusalem” by Yotam Ottolenghi. This is delicious served with a dollop of minted Greek plain yoghurt.
1 1/4 cups green or brown lentils
4 medium onions (1 1/2 lb)
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
About 1 cup sunflower oil
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 cup basmati rice
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups water or chicken stock
salt and ground pepper
Place the lentils in a small saucepan, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the lentils have softened but still have a little bite. Drain and set aside
Peel the onions and slice thinly. Place on a large flat plate, sprinkle with the flour and 1 tsp salt, and mix well with your hands.
Heat the sunflower oil in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan placed over a high heat. Make sure the oil is hot by throwing in a small piece of onion; it should sizzle vigorously.
Reduce the heat to medium high and carefully (it may spit!) add one-third of the sliced onion.
Fry for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a slotted spoon. until the onion takes on a nice golden brown color and turns crispy. (adjust the temperature so the onion doesn’t fry too quickly and burn)
Use the spoon to transfer the onion to a colander lined with paper towels and sprinkle with a little more salt.
Do the same with the other two batches of onion; add a little extra if needed.
Wipe the saucepan in which you fried the onion clean and put in the cumin and coriander seeds.
Place over medium heat and toast the seeds for a minute or two. Add the rice, olive oil, turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and plenty of ground black pepper.
Stir to coat the rice with the oil and then add the cooked lentils and the water/chicken stock.
Bring to a boil, cover with a lid and simmer over a very low heat for 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat, lift off the lid and quickly cover the pan with a clean tea towel. Seal tightly with the lid and set aside for 10 minutes.
Finally, add half the fried onion to the rice and lentils and stir gently with a fork.
Pile the mixture in a shallow bowl and top with the remaining onion