arroz com lentilhas e cebola AKA rice with onion and lentil

by Heguiberto on October 4, 2010

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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.

arroz com lentilhas e cebola AKA rice with onion and lentil

arroz com lentilhas e cebola AKA rice with onion and lentil

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
Kosher salt
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.

folding carmelized onion into lentil rice

folding carmelized onion into lentil rice

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!

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

nancy@skinnykitchen October 4, 2010 at 8:09 am

This sounds really good. I’m going to try it using brown basmati rice to make it healthy!

Heguiberto October 4, 2010 at 8:48 am

Hi Nancy, I’ve made it with brown basmati in the past it it tastes equally good. The texture however is a bit different. Thanks for visiting weirdcombinations.

tasteofbeirut October 5, 2010 at 7:39 am

This dish is almost identical to the one we make in Lebanon called mudardara; however the rice used to be the small fat Egyptian one. I love it and so does everybody here.

Heguiberto October 5, 2010 at 10:16 am

The Lebanese population in Brazil is huge the states of São Paulo, Rio and Minas Gerais received most of the Lebanese migrants in the last century. Our cuisine has been influenced by your cuisine which is a great healthy thing 😉 I am going to try this dish next time using Egyptian rice.

Cherine October 7, 2010 at 1:03 am

Love this dish, in lebanon we call it mdardra… one of my favorite dishes with the caramelized onions!!

Heguiberto October 7, 2010 at 9:04 am

Hi Cherine,
Thanks for the name correct name on this dish. It is my absolute favorite dish too. The sweetness and smokiness of the caramelized onions melds perfectly well with the earthy flavor lentils have.

Lili October 10, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Hegui, mal posso esperar pra experimentar essa receita! Amo basmanti rice e lentilhas. It looks delicious. Btw – o que eh “un- hulled” lentilhas? Algum tipo especial?

Heguiberto October 10, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Oi Lili,
Eu também amo esse prato!
A letilha vermelha é normalmente usada sem a casquinha marrom externa, partidas ao meio nas sopas ‘dal’ Indianas.
Esse arroz com lentilhas vermelhas inteiras fica com sabor mais delicado do que quando feito com as letilhas comuns. Un-hulled seria a lentilha inteira com a casquinha.

Purabi naha October 30, 2011 at 8:52 pm

This sounds great and the kind of dish we love to eat. Bein an Indian, we eat lentils and rice everyday and this is an interesting twist! Loved this.

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