Tomato pilaf with black lentils and caramelised onion

By Emma Galloway

This recipe is extracted from Every Day by Emma Galloway. HarperCollins NZ, RRP $60. Images by Lottie Hedley.

This delicious and nutritious almost-one-pan-meal was inspired by Turkish tomato pilaf and Mujadara, a tasty combination of rice, lentils and onions found throughout the Middle East. Using smart ways to extract every ounce of flavour from just a handful of simple ingredients, this dish makes the perfect midweek meal. You can use puy-style or brown lentils in place of black lentils, if you prefer.

Serves four

115g (½ cup) black (beluga) lentils, rinsed well
60ml (¼ cup) olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
250g tomatoes (I like to use cherry), finely chopped
340g (1²⁄³ cups) white basmati rice, rinsed and drained well
750ml (3 cups) water
Coriander (cilantro) leaves, roughly chopped, to serve

Caramelised onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions, finely sliced
Fine salt, to taste


Place lentils into a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15–20 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add oil and garlic and cook for 30 seconds, before adding chopped tomato. Cook, stirring often, for 3–4 minutes, or until soft and juicy. Add rice and stir then add water and a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside with the lid on for a further 10 minutes.

To make the caramelised onions, as soon as your rice is happily cooking away, heat oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, for 20– 25 minutes or until deeply golden, taking care in the final 5–10 minutes to ensure the bottom doesn’t catch and burn. Season with salt. These can be prepared in advance and will store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 3 days.

When the rice is cooked, remove the lid, stir through lentils, adjust seasoning if needed and serve topped with caramelised onions and chopped coriander.


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