Cookbook Profile

Lentils, Rice, and Chickpeas


Serves 4 to 6


Two of the Middle East's most ancient foods-lentils and chickpeas-combine with rice in this traditional dish that offers hearty flavor and a complete balance of vegetable proteins. The seasoning combination of garlic, cumin, and mint indicates a probable Egyptian origin. Served with yogurt, a salad, and fresh pita, this dish makes a tasty and satisfying meatless meal.


3/4 cup lentils
1/2 cup rice
2 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 large cloves garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cups tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
Several good grinds of black pepper
1 small bunch fresh mint leaves,
   finely chopped, or 2 tablespoons
   crushed dry mint
2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained
Good handful of flat leaf
   parsley leaves, finely chopped
Plain yogurt, for garnish


1. In a pot, combine the lentils, rice, and water. Bring to a simmer; then cover and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered.

2. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the sliced onion over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is a rich golden brown. Remove the onion from the pot, leaving behind as much of the oil as possible. Set the onions aside.

3. In the same saucepan, sauté the chopped onion and the garlic in the remaining oil, stirring, until the onion wilts and just begins to turn golden. Stir in the cumin.

4. Add the tomato sauce, salt, pepper; mint, and chickpeas, then add the reserved lentils and rice. Mix well, then cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the parsley.

5. Serve hot, garnished with the reserved caramelized onions, and pass the yogurt.

Like most bean and lentil dishes, this will thicken considerably on standing. If you need to thin the mixture, add some water and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Buy the Book!  

Crossroads Cooking
The Meeting and Mating of
Ethnic Cuisines—from Burma to Texas in 200 Recipes
By Elisabeth Rozin
Viking Press, June 1999
Hardback, 288 pages, $27.50
ISBN: 0-670-87883-1
Recipe Reprinted by permission.


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This page created September 1999