Palestinian Lentils and Rice With Crispy Onions

"This is so delicious and so simple. It's a little exotic, very flavorful, and will make your kitchen smell wonderful as it cooks - and my preference is to add extra cumin! I've never made it without first soaking the rice and lentils, but the dish could surely be adapted to no-soaking if you're looking to cut some of the prep time."
photo by averybird photo by averybird
photo by averybird
photo by sarsalam photo by sarsalam
photo by sarsalam photo by sarsalam
Ready In:
3hrs 45mins




  • Soak lentils in water for 3 hours; drain.
  • Soak rice in water for 1/2 hour; drain.
  • Saute onions in a large skillet for about 15 minutes, or until very brown and crisp.
  • Remove onions to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
  • Turn heat to medium-high and add lentils and rice to skillet; saute quickly in the browned-onion-flavored oil, adding cumin, salt and pepper.
  • Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  • Cover very tightly and then cook on very low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes.
  • To serve, fluff up rice and lentils and top with the crispy browned onions.

Questions & Replies

  1. Can this recipe be made a day in advance? Would it get too mushy?


  1. We eat this all the time, but use only Indian basmati rice. It should be made with brown lentils to be Palestinian. It is the most basic meal and super inexpensive and just delicious! True arabic comfort food; and healthy to boot! I have found that it sometimes needs to be cooked longer when you don't soak the lentils but you can just add a little more water and cook until it dries up. You can take the lid of the pot at the end if it's still too watery when the lentils are done. Serving it with yogurt or a tomato salad like #202576 is a must! I also make extra onions and serve half mixed in with the rice and half on top. Then set the yogurt and tomato salad out as "side dishes" or toppings. This is a great dish!
  2. Definitely a hit! Followed recipe exactly (but doubled it for a buffet dinner party). Nice that the dish appealed to everyone - young kids, adults, vegetarians and non. Will definitely be one of my go-to's from here on out. Easy too, but one caveat: the onions take much longer to crisp (wo/ burning) than one might expect - well over an hour.
  3. Very good recipe, though it could be healthier. Here are some tips: LENTILS: Use green or brown lentils. Red or yellow varieties will break down into mush. DO soak your lentils or they won't be quite cooked enough. Even 30 minutes in hot water will make a difference. RINSE your lentils and jasmine rice to wash off excess starch. This will make the grains more distinct and less mushy in the finished dish. OLIVE OIL: I cut the quantity of olive oil in half to 1/4 cup and still got the desired flavor and texture. This is more than enough to fry the onions and flavor the dish. THE ONIONS will crisp up nicely in 15-20 minutes if the heat is high enough. The key is that the higher your heat, the closer you have to watch the pan and stir things to prevent burning. SEASONING: Like most of you, I doubled the cumin to approx. 2 tsp and it was great. Be generous with the pepper. I used a grinder and pretty much covered the rice and lentils before sauteing. Next time I will try reducing the salt a bit. There is a LOT of salt in this recipe and I suspect it will be just as good with half as much. FINISHING THE DISH: After 20 minutes on the stove, I opened the lid, tossed the onions back in, then closed the lid and turned off the heat while finishing the rest of the meal. This softened the onions back up a bit, kept greedy hands away from them, and helped the flavors blend back into the dish.
  4. Delicious! Perfect just as written. I'll be making this again many, many times! Used brown lentils which I soaked in boiling water for about 1 1/2 hours. I had no problem cooking the onions crisply. The problem was not to eat them before the lentils and rice were finished cooking.Thanks for sharing. cg
  5. This is SO GOOD! OMG, it was so tough to not eat the crispy onions while waiting for the rest to cook! I didn't soak either the rice or lentils, but next time I would soak the lentils. They took a bit longer than the 25 minutes, but not enough to be a problem. I also added extra cumin, about 2 teaspoons total. Very good flavor overall, and we'll be having this again! (You may want to add in the instructions to saute the onions in the oil, as a new chef may not know this) Great recipe--can't wait to have it again! Thanks!


  1. This was pretty good, I didn't soak the lentils first, but I just boiled them until a little more than half done. However my onions didn't turn out 'brown and crispy' rather they turned out 'brown and soggy' LOL, I wonder why? but the taste was still there. However I do think that this dish could use a little spicing up, maybe next time I make it I will use ghee instead of olive oil, and add in some spices such as cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom, and whole peppercorn. But it's already pretty good as it is :) it goes pretty well with Hot Indian curry, yummy.
  2. I soaked the lentils in hot water. I didn't soak the rice at all. I browned the onions and then sauted the rice until it was turning white(ish) and added the lentils and sauted a couple of minutes longer. Added the seasonings and water and covered to cook as directed. I had a small problem with the recipe by the time it had finished cooking. Everything went according to schedule until the "top with crispy browned onions". They were so excellent, I ate them before the rice and lentils were done. I forced myself not to eat about two tablespoons of them so I could rate this but the onions alone could have gotten five stars. It was great. In fact, I made more so I could try it with coriander instead of cumin. I like both but I liked it with coriander best...and LOTS of black pepper. I will make this again!!! Thanks Edsgirl! P.S. I don't know how Palestinian it is with the coriander, but it is excellent that way. Yum.



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