Middle Eastern Barley, Lentil, and Rice Casserole

Time: 15 minutes preparation 45 minutes no-work cooking time

This is a mouthwatering spicy mix of grains and lentils, so flattering to any number of other tastes that it’s well worth the effort to make this in double batches to freeze in small portions for a rainy day.

I round out this casserole with a side of Stir-Fried Cabbage and Greens or Cauliflower with Red Pepper Ribbons; meat eaters can pair this with beef, lamb, or pork.

The fresh mint brings color to the otherwise monochromatic dish, but, as far as flavor is concerned, dried mint works as well as fresh.


  • 2 onions
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar, white wine or cider
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
  • ½ cup pearl barley
  • ½ cup lentils
  • ½ cup brown rice, long or short grain
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup currants or raisins


  1. Chop the onions and mince the garlic.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sugar and sauté for about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the vinegar, garlic, cumin, cardamom, and dried mint if you don’t have fresh; sauté just to release their aroma, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the barley, lentils, rice, and water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium heat, then cover and simmer over low heat until almost completely tender, about 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile mince the fresh mint, if using.
  6. Stir the currants into the grains and simmer until all the grains and lentils are tender, about 10 minutes more. Adjust the seasoning and let the casserole sit off the heat for 10 minutes. Fold in the fresh mint if using and serve hot.