Lentils and Rice

Shortcuts make this delicious dish simple to make.
45 minutes Total Time
25 minutes to prep
12 minutes to cook
10 minutes to cool
5 servings

This recipe is heavily modified from a Cook's Illustrated recipe for Mujaddara which includes frying your own onions. I made that recipe a few times and it is an amazing dish but it takes a little bit more work than I usually want. Frying the onions was especially time consuming and also uses a lot of oil. 

I worked on simplifying this recipe in every way possible, including some pre-prepped ingredients. First I started using French's Fried onions. The onion flavor is not as strong as when you fry them yourself, so I started also included some pre-sautéed frozen onions I found at Target. (These are great to have on hand for many things.) Trader Joe's sells steamed lentils in vacuum packs that last months in the refrigerator. These save some time an eliminate a dish. I also use my favorite Dorot garlic cubes which is a staple in all my recipes. 

With all these time-savers, this recipe has no chopping other than the optional cilantro. The prep is incredibly simple and most of the time comes from letting the rice sit in hot water for 15 minutes. 

Adapted From: Cook's Illustrated

You can sautè an onion and mince your own garlic if you don't have access to the frozen cubes. They are great time savers if you can find them, however. There is no sacrifice to flavor, and the cost is reasonable.

If you don't have access to Trader Joe's lentils, they can be purchased pre-cooked at other grocery stores. Of course, you can also pre-cook some dried lentils as directed in original recipe. That called for 1.25 cups of dried lentils cooked in 4 cups of water with 1 teaspoon of salt. My version is all about convenience while still creating something delicious, so I am using all the shortcuts I can find. 


Ingredients with an * are listed more than once.


  • Gather ingredients. There is very little prep to this recipe. Most of prep time comes from letting the rice sit in hot water. I generally do this while the rice is soaking.
    Step 0
  • Mix yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and salt in small bowl. Set aside.
    Step 1
  • Cover rice with 2" of hot water in a small bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes.
    Step 2
  • Stir the rice to release the starch.
    Step 3
  • Drain rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear.
    Step 4
  • Heat oil in a dutch oven.
    Step 5
  • Add sautéed onion, garlic, and all spices to oil and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
    Step 6
  • Add drained rice to the pot. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes until rice edges are translucent.
    Step 7
  • Add water, sugar, salt, and cooked lentils to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 12 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.
    Step 8
  • When water is absorbed, remove pot from heat. Put a clean kitchen towel under the lid and let stand for 10 minutes.
    Step 9
  • Fluff rice and lentils with a fork. Stir in cilantro if using.
    Step 10
  • Serve with crispy onions and yogurt sauce. Leftovers can be reheated after storing in refrigerator or freezer. Store onions and sauce separately.
    Step 11

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