The Saturday Paper - - Food -

Serves 4-6

– 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.

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