Lentils, Rice & Red Onion Salad


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Falling Cloudberries

By Tessa Kiros

Published 2004

  • About

This is more or less what they make in Peru: I have just added the yoghurt. The red onion salad gives the lentils such a lift and is also very good served with grilled (broiled) foods. I love this after it has been marinating for a few hours, even overnight, and has taken on a special fuchsia tone.


  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves (1 chopped, the other left whole)
  • 1 large ripe tomato, peeled and chopped
  • 500 g (2⅔ cups) brown lentils
  • 750 g ( cups) long-grain rice
  • juice of lemons
  • 1 small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 150 g ( oz) plain greek yoghurt


Rinse the onions and drain in a fine sieve. Keep about a quarter on one side and put the rest in a bowl. Cover with cold water, sprinkle with the salt and leave for 30 minutes or so.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a saucepan. Add the handful of onion and the chopped garlic and sauté until golden. Add the tomato and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for 5–10 minutes until the tomato has melted and the water evaporated and you can see the oil actually frying. Remove from the heat and keep aside.

Rinse the lentils and pick out any hard odd bits. Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over high heat. Drain, then return to the saucepan. Add about 1.5 litres (6 cups) hot water and season with salt. Bring back to the boil, then lower the heat slightly and cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Add the tomato mixture and cook for another 10 minutes or so, until the lentils are soft but not mushy and there is not much liquid left. Stir occasionally to make sure they don’t stick to the pan. If it seems like the lentils are drying out, add a little more hot water.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and add the whole clove of garlic. Add the rice, season with salt, mix through and cook for a minute. Add enough water to come about 3 cm (about an inch) above the top of the rice and bring to the boil, stirring once. Cook uncovered for 3–4 minutes, until a lot of the water seems to have evaporated and there are some holes on the surface. Drizzle with a tablespoon of oil, cover the pan and lower the heat to a minimum. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the rice is dry and steaming, then fluff it up with a fork to make sure it hasn’t stuck to the pan. Remove from the heat and leave the lid on if you are not eating immediately.

Drain and rinse the soaked onion in a fine sieve. Mix with the lemon juice and chilli and a splash of olive oil and season with salt and a little pepper. Arrange a pile of lentils, a pile of rice, a small pile of onion salad and a dollop of yoghurt on each plate — some people will eat them separately while others like to stir it all together on the plate.