Lentil Pilaf with Caramelized Onions

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Last Updated on January 12, 2020 by Chef Mireille

Lentil Pilaf with Caramelized Onions is a delicious side dish or a wholesome Vegetarian one pot dish.

Lentil Pilaf with Caramelized Onions

Baharat is the Arabic word for spices. This mixture of spices is sold in Middle Eastern markets and will vary from country to country. Kalustyans, a store here in NYC that features international foods, sells Baharat from many different countries. In this pilaf, I used Lebanese Baharat. You can also use raz el hanout.

This is a very simple pilaf, but what makes this dish special is the caramelized onions. I am not a raw onion fan. To me they are right up there with avocados, eggplant and all other foods that are on my Hate List. Slightly cooked onions with their slimy texture have the same effect on me. If you have noticed in my recipes, I always chop onions very small so they just disintegrate into the gravy of whatever I am making, so I get the flavor without the slimy texture. The only way I have learned to appreciate onions is in the form of caramelized onions. The natural sweetness comes out and when mixed with a large plate of rice and vermicelli, the texture doesn’t bother at all!

For some other Middle Eastern inspired dishes, check these out to complete this meal!

Middle Eastern Recipes

Pilaf 3 -edit


lentils -edit

The caramelized onions really push this simple dish over the top!

pilaf -edit

With protein from the beans, you can even make this a Vegetarian #onepotmeal

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Lentil Pilaf with Caramelized Onions

a wholesome vegetarian meal that is both #vegan and #glutenfree
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Course: Rice
Cuisine: Lebanese
Servings: 6


  • 3/4 cup brown/green lentils
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup vermicelli
  • 2 cups Basmati or long grain rice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Baharat
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Caramelized Onions Ingredeints
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced


  • In a large pot of boiling water, add lentils. Cook until fork tender but still al dente, about 20 minutes. Drain.
  • In a large pot, melt butter and oil. Add vermicelli and rice. Stir fry for 5 minutes until rice and vermicelli is well coated with the butter.
  • Add lentils, baharat, salt and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer, cover pot and cook for 10-15 minutes until rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed.
  • To make the onions, combine oil and onion and cook on low heat, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes until onions are browned.
  • To serve, garnish pilaf with caramelized onions.
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Reader Interactions


  1. While looking for Lebanese recipes, I bookmarked this and wanted to try it but skipped at last moment. Your post is tempting me to try it now.

  2. I love caramelised onions in rice. Typically I make them for biriyanis. But I am sure it will elevate the taste of this simple pilaf to a new level.

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