– 1½ cups small brown lentils
– 4 onions
– 3 tbsp butter
– 1½ tsp coarsely ground cumin seeds – pinch ground allspice
– 1½ cups long-grain rice
– 1 tsp salt
– 1/3 cup flour
– 1 cup olive oil
– 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
In a small saucepan, cover the lentils with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until lentils are cooked. Strain and set aside. While they are cooking, finely chop two of the onions. Melt the butter in a medium-sized, heavy-based saucepan and fry the chopped onion, cumin and allspice until onions are golden.
Pour the rice and salt into the pot with the onions and stir. Pour 2¼ cups of cold water into the pot of rice and bring it to the boil. When the water boils, turn the heat down low and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Let the rice cook for 15 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the rice stand, covered, for another five minutes.
Slice the remaining onions very thinly. In a bowl, mix the slices around with your hands to separate the onion rings. Toss the rings through the flour until they are well coated. Heat the oil in a small saucepan and fry the onions in batches until they are golden brown. Transfer the onions to a paper-towel-lined plate and reserve the oil.
In a large bowl, toss together the rice and the lentils. If the mixture seems dry, moisten it with two to three tablespoons of the onion-frying oil. Mix in pine nuts and taste for seasoning. Pile the mixture on to a serving platter and top with the fried onions.