- 250 g brown lentils, briefly soaked and rinsed
- 3 large onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced into half-moons
- 1⁄4 cup olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 200 g basmati rice
- 1 1⁄2 t ground cumin
- 1 t ground coriander
- 1⁄2 t ground allspice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 200 g Swiss chard, trimmed, roughly shredded and rinsed
- For serving:
- Thick Greek yoghurt
- Free-range eggs, hard-boiled and halved
- Hot sauce
Simmer the lentils in enough water to cover generously for 15 minutes, or until just soft. Drain and set aside.
Fry the onions in the oil in a heavy-based saucepan, stirring fairly often and adding more oil if necessary, for about 15 minutes, or until dark caramel brown.
Remove half the onions, drain on kitchen paper, season with a little salt and keep for garnishing.
Add the garlic to the onions in the pot and a little more oil if necessary. Add the rice and stir for a minute or so. Add the spices until well mixed. Stir in the reserved lentils and 2 1⁄2 cups water. Add 1 t salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a bubble, then reduce the heat and cover. Simmer gently for 15 minutes.
Uncover, add the chard and cover again for 5 minutes, or until the chard is just wilted and the rice tender. Moisten the chard with a little olive oil and check the seasoning.
Turn onto a platter and top with the reserved fried onions. If you like, serve with Greek yoghurt, hardboiled eggs, hot sauce, or all of them.
Cook's note: This is a deliciously comforting Middle Eastern dish. If you don’t mind using an extra pot, deep-fry the onions separately for a crispier result. You could also cook the lentils with the rice – but bear in mind you’ll need more water.