The Washington Post


Megadarra 6.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Book Report Mar 23, 2017

This winning dish of lentils, rice and fried onions has all the richness and aroma of steak au poivre, thanks to a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and oniony oil.

Be advised that the fried onions may not crisp up when they’re made on a humid day. But they will still taste terrific.

Serve with Turkish Yogurt Sauce (see related recipe).

Make Ahead: The thinly sliced raw onion needs to dry out for 1 hour. The fried onions need to rest at room temperature for 1 hour before using.

6 - 8

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6-8 servings

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 cups dried brown or green lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups water, plus hot water as needed
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice (uncooked)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Flaked sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Crumbled dried mint leaves, for garnish (optional)
  • Mild red pepper flakes, such as Aleppo, for garnish (optional)

Related Recipes


Line a baking sheet with a clean dish towel.

Use a sharp knife to cut the onion from top to bottom into 1/8-inch slices. Gather them in a separate clean dish towel and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Spread them in a single layer on the lined baking sheet. Let sit for 1 hour, at room temperature.

Meanwhile, combine the lentils and water in a saute pan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes; at this point the lentils should still be slightly firm.

Place the rice in a colander and rinse under cool running water, until the draining water runs clear. Shake to drain well.

Add the rinsed rice to the lentils, along with the black pepper and a pinch of salt. If the liquid level in the pan doesn’t cover the rice-lentil mixture, add just enough hot water to make that happen. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the rice and lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and let cool for a bit.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. Set a wire cooling rack on top of it.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add an onion slice to test the temperature; if the onion sizzles on contact, add the rest of the slices and fry for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat so that the onion doesn’t burn. They should become a rich golden brown.

Use a slotted spoon or Chinese spider to transfer them to the wire rack; season right away with a pinch of salt. Let stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour, so the fried onions can drain and dry/crisp up.

Use a long fork or chopsticks to fluff the rice-lentil mixture, cover partially and let stand till the onion is ready.

Add half the fried onions and their cooking oil to the rice-lentil mixture. Stir gently to incorporate. Let stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

To serve, use the chopsticks to fluff that mixture once more, then transfer to a large platter, mounding it. Scatter the remaining fried onions on top, along with the dried mint, if using, a sprinkling of the salt and the red pepper flakes.

Recipe Source

Adapted from “Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert’s Renegade Life,” by Emily Kaiser Thelin (M&P, 2017).

Tested by Jane Black.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at

Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 320

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 15g 23%

Saturated Fat: 2g 10%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 140mg 6%

Total Carbohydrates: 40g 13%

Dietary Fiber: 6g 24%

Sugar: 1g

Protein: 9g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

Most Read Lifestyle