Moukentra

Lentils and Rice

THE SIMPLE combination of rice and lentils flavored with onion and chopped cilantro makes a hearty and nourishing winter main course. On Crete and other Greek islands, the dish is simply called fakoryzo (lentil-rice). Nikos Psilakis, in his book Traditional Cuisine of Crete, explains that on this island the rice was usually added on the second day to lentil soup. This dish from Cyprus, on the other hand, is prepared from scratch with lentils and rice.

Serve with sheep’s milk yogurt, Drained Yogurt or feta cheese.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • cup olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • About cups Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock
  • 1 cup medium-grain rice, such as Arborio
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Method

Place the lentils and bay leaf in a large pot, add water to cover by 2 inches and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Drain and set aside. Wipe out the pot with paper towels.

Heat the oil in the pot and sauté the onion over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups of the stock, the rice, the lentils, Aleppo pepper or pepper flakes and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more stock as needed, until the rice is tender and has the consistency of risotto.

Add a few grindings of black pepper and drizzle with oil, if using. Remove from the heat, stir in the cilantro and taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve at once.

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