Wash lentils thoroughly. Add water to a medium-sized pot and boil uncovered over medium-high heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until done (don’t overcook).
Drain lentils in a colander, saving the liquid. Dissolve the saffron in a small amount of hot water and add to the lentils. Set aside.
Wash the rice thoroughly. To a separate pot add water, half of the oil and salt and bring to a boil. On high heat, boil the rice until slightly soft (10 to 15 minutes). Drain rice in a large colander and rinse with warm water.
Select a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Coat the bottom of the pot with the remaining oil and add 1/3 of the rice. Add 1/3 of the lentils and mix well. Repeat until all the rice and lentils are mixed in the pot.
Shape the rice-lentil mixture into a pyramid and cover with a lid and steam over a medium to medium-low heat for about 30 to 40 minutes.
Slice the onions thinly and lightly caramelize over low heat with oil. Check the onions every 5 to 10 minutes. Stir the onions and scrape up any fond that forms on the bottom of the skillet (30-40 minutes).
Add the remaining ingredients and cook for about 5 more minutes. Serve the lentil rice on a serving platter and top off with the caramelized onion mixture.