This bravely spiced rice and lentil dish is more than a sum of its parts and comes (mostly) from the store cupboard. It’s topped with a crown of crispy frizzled shallots, which brings a key level of crunch and contrast to what is otherwise soft and comforting dish.
In its pure Egyptian street-food form there is pasta, macaroni to be precise, and often chickpeas, too. We just used rice and lentils here for simplicity, but you could add a handful of macaroni to the rice, or a drained can of chickpeas, to make it a little more authentic.
PREP TIME: Under 2 Hrs.
- 150g of whole brown lentils
- 750g fresh cherry tomatoes or 2x400g tinned cherry tomatoes, drained
- 4 cloves of garlic, kept whole
- 6 shallots, peeled and very thinly sliced
- 5 tablespoons coconut oil
- A small bunch of coriander, including stalks
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice or 4 allspice berries, bashed
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- 300g of rice
- Rapeseed oil
- A small bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
- A small bunch of mint, roughly chopped
- Oven temperature, 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6.
- First, soak your lentils in 300ml of warm water for an hour, then drain and rinse.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.
- Heat up your Le Creuset 30cm Shallow Casserole dish on a low to medium heat, add the tomatoes, the unpeeled garlic cloves, a quarter of the sliced shallots and 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil.
- Chop the coriander stalks then add those as well, along with the allspice and stick of cinnamon.
- Roast in the oven for 10 minutes then remove from the oven and sprinkle on the rice and rinsed lentils.
- Add 900ml of boiling water, season with salt, cover with the lid and place in the oven for another 25 minutes.
- While this is cooking, make the crispy shallots. Fill another pan with a 3cm depth of room-temperature rapeseed oil. Put over high heat and once hot, add the remaining shallots. You should see the oil bubble up when you add them. Give them a quick stir so they are all evenly submerged in the oil, then leave to cook for around 4 minutes, keeping an eye on them as they cook.
- Once they start turning a light golden colour remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and onto some kitchen paper then leave to cool completely.
- Remove the rice from the oven and, using an oven glove, take off the lid and pick out the whole garlic cloves.
- Let the rice stand for 10 minutes and, meanwhile, pop the garlic out of its skin and mash with some sea salt and the remaining 3 tablespoons coconut oil.
- Stir the garlic oil through the rice followed by the chopped parsley, mint and coriander leaves.
- Season with salt and pepper and top with the crispy shallots, serve in the pan in the middle of the table.