My oldest sister, Tinha, and I were roommates for a while when I lived in São José dos Campos in Brazil. One of the dishes she prepared which I liked the most was her arroz com lentilhas. Upon returning from our week vacation in Toronto where we ate out every day, all I could think of was homemade comfort food to feed my soul. Tinha’s arroz com lentilha came to mind immediately.
I’ve made this dish with many variations before but my favorite continues to be this one. Prepare to cry a bit while cutting the onions! They release a volatile sulfur based gassy compound that hits your eyes and reacts with the water there. In turn your eyes produce more water (tears) to get rid of the irritating chemical. But there’s no getting around it. Plus, I love onions! Clarence, our English bulldog, perhaps is smarter. Whenever I’m in the kitchen cutting onions, he vanishes to the safety of the bedroom!
arroz com lentilhas e cebola AKA rice with onion and lentil
2½ cups onions (preferably white) cut into thin slivers
½ cup canola and extra virgin olive oil combined together
1½ cup red un-hulled lentils, rinsed
1 cup non-aged basmati rice, rinsed
freshly ground black pepper
Place lentils in a heavy bottom pan. Add about 2½ cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil then reduce temperature to medium and simmer for about 18 minutes. Add rice, salt and fresh black pepper to lentils. Stir and cover. Turn temperature to low and cook for another 12-13 minutes. Remove from heat but keep the pan covered tightly for another 8 minutes so rice finishes cooking.
Add onions, a sprinkle of salt and about three fourths of the oil to a skillet and sauté onions until browned and reduced to about a third of the original volume. It will take about the same length of time that the lentils require for cooking so you can do these two steps simultaneously.
Uncover cooked lentil rice mix and fluff with a fork. To avoid breaking rice carefully fold in browned onions. Transfer to a serving platter and drizzle with remaining oil. Yumm!