1. Pick through the lentils for debris then rinse in cool water. Place the lentils in a saucepan and fill it with 4 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, partially cover and simmer until the lentils are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. While the lentils cook, add 2 tablespoons of oil to another saucepan on medium heat. Add the rice and stir well to coat each grain evenly with oil. Let the rice fry for 2 minutes until it starts to turn golden brown. Add 2 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan and let the rice simmer for approximately 15 minutes or just until tender. Remove the rice from the pan and set aside.

3. Cut the onions in half then slice lengthwise into long, thin slivers.

4. Add 4 tablespoons oil to a medium pot over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, peppercorns, red chiles and cinnamon stick. When the aroma starts to rise, add the onions. Stir them around occasionally so they cook evenly. Continue cooking until they turn dark brown and become tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Add the almonds and fry until they start to turn golden brown.

5. Stir in the red chile powder, ground cumin and remaining teaspoon of salt to the pot and fry for a minute. Pour in the cooked rice and lentils. Gently stir until the onions, rice and lentils are evenly mixed and flavors blended. Let this cook for another 5 minutes. Add salt as needed.

​6. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped cilantro.


1 cup brown lentils
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup basmati rice
2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 dried red chiles, stems removed
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
3 red onions
3 tablespoons sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumi
1 Tbs cilantro, chopped

Indian Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions [Indian fusion Recipe]

This recipe was inspired by a traditional Middle Eastern recipe, called Mujadara, for rice and lentils that is garnished with caramelized onions. It is a hardy dish that is simply spiced to highlight the sweet, dark flavor of the caramelized onions. I have refashioned this healthy vegetarian recipe to incorporate whole and ground Indian spices to ramp up the flavor profile. ​It can be served as a main course or as a side, hot or room temperature. Plain yogurt is a great accompaniment.