Rice and Lentil Pilaf

Brown Lentils and Basmati Rice are cooked together along with onions and fragrant spices; a lighter version of the traditional middle eastern mujaddara.

I have updated my previous post (Curried Cranberry Beans) with the picture of the Cranberry Beans.

The luxury of the holidays are over; back to school, back to work and back to squeezing in the best of everything in a healthy bowl in 45 minute. It has to be quick (for me ), & good looking and delicious (for everone else who gets to eat it). I made this for a quick lunch and had the pilaf with mint raita (mint flavored yogurt). This pilaf tastes almost like mujaddara, but I have used less lentils than it is usually used in the traditional Middle Eastern dish, and have not taken much time to garnish elaborately with caramelized onions. Even after the differences it was pretty good and wholesome – vegetables, protein and carb. cooked all together and quickly, what more could you ask for?

Rice and Lentil Pilaf


  1. 3/4 Cup Uncooked Brown Lentils
  2. 1.5 Cups Uncooked Basmati Rice
  3. 1 Small Onion, sliced into thin half moons
  4. 1 Carrot, diced (or any other/combination of vegetables)
  5. 3 Tablespoons Ghee or Butter or Oil
  6. Salt
  7. 1/4 Teaspoon Turmeric
  8. 2 Cloves
  9. 1 Green Cardamom
  10. 1″ stick Cinnamon
  11. A pinch of Saffron
  12. 1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
  13. 1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Fresh flat leaf Parsley or Cilantro


Wash the rice and drain repeatedly till the water runs clear. Soak the rice in cold water for about 1/2 hour.

Wash and drain the brown lentils. Soak the lentils in water for at least 1/2 hour.

Heat the Ghee/Butter/Oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add the clove, cardamom and cinnamon; when they are fragrant (in less than a minute) add the cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds start to sizzle, add the sliced onions and fry them till they are tender and start to brown on the sides – for about 10 minutes. Do wait till they are slightly brown, for at this stage the onions start getting nicely fragrant.

In the mean time, drain the rice and the lentils and set aside.

When are onions are limp and light brown, add the rice, lentils, carrots, salt, saffron, turmeric and toss them all together and cook for till the ghee/butter/oil coats everything well for about 3-4 minutes at medium heat. The rice will glisten and shine and will start to look opaque.

Add 3.5 – 4  cups of water and cook over medium heat uncovered till all the water from the surface is gone. All you will see is the long half cooked rice. At this time, cover the pan and switch the heat of the stove to the lowest. Cook covered at low heat for about 5 minutes and them switch off the heat, but do not uncover yet. Let the rice cook in it’s steam.

Uncover when ready to serve. Stir in the chopped parsley or cilantro and fluff the rice with fork.

Serve hot with yogurt or salad, as a side dish or as main meal.

Brown lentil and Rice Pilaf

Chilly, frosty outside and a warm bowl of steaming fragrant pilaf – nothing but delicious.

Brown lentil and Rice Pilaf

Another nice way to use this rice if there are left overs would be to use as stuffing in tomatoes, whole chicken, peppers etc. I have got to try that next.

Related Posts:

Chicken Pilaf

Thai Fried Rice

Spicy Tomato Mushroom Rice with Fresh Mint

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