piquant lentils and rice


1 pound lentils
1 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup onions
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons dried mint
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
1 pinch saffron (optional)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 1/4 cups boiling water
1 small or 1/2 large lemon, very thinly sliced


  1. Rinse the lentils and sort through them for little pebbles. Cover with about 3 inches of water in a medium stock pot.
  2. Turn the heat to high. Once the pot of water and lentils comes to a boil, turn the heat to medium and boil uncovered for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, rinse the rice until the water runs clear and set it aside. *
  4. Start testing the lentils for doneness around the 10 minute mark. The lentils are ready once they are unpleasantly al dente. You should be able to chew one (it should be somewhat soft), but it should still be gritty and mealy.
  5. Once the lentils are ready, strain them and rinse them until the water runs clear. *
  6. Use a damp paper towel to wipe down the sides of the pot that you cooked the lentils in until the scum is completely gone.
  7. Add the olive oil to the pot, turn the heat to medium and add the diced onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens (about 5 minutes).
  8. Add the turmeric, dried mint, crushed red pepper, and tomatoes, and cook for 1 minute.
  9. Add the lentils back into the pot, along with the saffron, rinsed rice, kosher salt, lemon juice and 2 1/4 cups boiling water. Stir together and shake everything out into an even layer.
  10. Turn the heat to high. Once the water comes back up to a boil, cover, lower the heat to low, and cook for 6 minutes. Do not open the lid while it’s cooking.
  11. Once 6 minutes have passed, open the lid, do not stir the lentils and rice, and arrange the lemon slices on top.
  12. Cook covered for another 6 minutes. Once 6 minutes have passed, turn off the heat and keep the pot covered for another 10 minutes.
  13. After 10 minutes of resting, fluff the lentils and rice with a fork and serve.


* To do a more environmentally friendly version of the rinsing steps, you can rinse by adding water to the pot, swishing things around, straining, and repeating a few times. This uses less water than just rinsing in a colander over the sink.