Delicious Rice and Lentil Pilaf Recipe for a Flavorful Meal

Welcome, dear readers, to my culinary world where food knows no boundaries. My name is Ehud, an Israeli chef with a passion for experimenting with different combinations of flavors and spices. Today, I bring to you a recipe that will transport you straight to the enchanting land of India – Rice and Lentil Pilaf, Indian Style Recipe.

This mouthwatering dish is a combination of fluffy Basmati rice, earthy lentils, and aromatic spices like cumin seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, and cardamom pods. The savory caramelized onions sprinkled on top add an extra layer of flavor to this comforting dish.

Why go out when you can cook up a storm in your own kitchen? This one-pot wonder is perfect for those looking for a quick-fix meal during a busy weeknight or those seeking sumptuous soul food on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Additionally, this dish is vegetarian-friendly and incredibly healthy as it contains whole ingredients like brown rice and fresh vegetables.

So join me in this culinary adventure as we explore the depths of Indian cuisine with this lentil rice pilaf recipe that is sure to satiate your taste buds!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Rice and Lentil Pilaf - Indian Style
Rice and Lentil Pilaf – Indian Style

Dear reader,

Are you looking for a comforting and delicious meal that’s easy to make? Look no further than this Indian-style Rice and Lentil Pilaf recipe! Here are three reasons why you’ll love it:

Firstly, this dish is made with healthy ingredients. Lentils are full of protein and fiber, while the carrots and potatoes add extra nutrients. Plus, because this pilaf is made with brown rice, it has a lower glycemic index and won’t cause blood sugar spikes like white rice does.

Secondly, the flavors in this dish are absolutely divine. The spices used – cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom pods, bay leaf and cumin seeds – work together perfectly to create a fragrant and rich base for the dish. And don’t forget the caramelized onions – they add a subtle sweetness that complements the savory flavors of the dish.

Lastly, this dish is so versatile. It can be served as a main course for a vegetarian dinner, or as a side dish to grilled chicken or fish. The leftovers can be stored in the fridge or freezer for an easy meal during busy weekdays.

So what are you waiting for? Give this Indain-style Rice and Lentil Pilaf recipe a try today, which needs only 5 ingredients and takes less than 30 min to make. I guarantee it will become one of your go-to comfort food dishes!

Ingredient List

 Serve up a hearty bowl of aromatic Rice and Lentil Pilaf - Indian Style
Serve up a hearty bowl of aromatic Rice and Lentil Pilaf – Indian Style

Ingredient List

Get ready to assemble these 5 fresh ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. This lentil pilaf recipe uses the following ingredient list:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • 7 cups of water

You could always switch out the brown rice for white rice if that is preferred.

The Recipe How-To

 Add a burst of color to your plate with this vibrant and flavorful dish
Add a burst of color to your plate with this vibrant and flavorful dish

Now that we have gathered all the ingredients, it is now time to cook the rice and lentil pilaf. It may seem complicated, but I assure you that it’s easy-peasy! Here are the steps:

Step 1: Cook The Lentils

  • Pour 1 cup of brown lentils and 3 cups of water into a saucepan over medium heat and let them come to a boil.
  • Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer the lentils for 25-30 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.

Step 2: Sauté The Onions

  • In a separate large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add 1 diced onion and sauté for about 5 minutes until they are soft and lightly browned.

Step 3: Add The Spices

  • Now add 2 thinly sliced carrots and 1 diced potato into the saucepan with the onions. Stir them around for a minute or two.
  • Then add 2 tbsp cumin seeds, 3 whole cloves, 2 bay leaves, 4 cardamom pods, and 2 cinnamon sticks. Give it all another good stir.

Step 4: Add The Rice And Toast

  • Next, add rinsed 2 cups basmati rice to the pot with the vegetables and spices. Toast for a minute or two while stirring continuously.

Step 5: Add Liquid And Reduce Heat

  • Add 1 can of chicken or vegetable broth plus enough water to make up for any missing liquid as needed.
  • Stir in 1/4 tsp ground turmeric, and some freshly ground black pepper. Bring it to a boil; then reduce heat to low.

Step 6: Simmer

  • Add cooked brown lentils plus one more cup uncooked brown rice on top of everything in the pot.
  • Cover in a tight-fitting lid (preferably with foil between) to keep steam in, then simmer over very low heat for about 45 minutes.

Step 7: Serve

  • Remove from heat after 45 minutes.
  • Leave covered until you’re ready to serve.
  • Optional: Top with fresh cilantro or scallions as a garnish.

Voila! Now you have made an Indian-style rice and lentil pilaf dish right from your own kitchen. Try it now and let yourself indulge in its deliciously comforting taste!

Substitutions and Variations

 Take your tastebuds on a trip to India with every spoonful of this Pilaf
Take your tastebuds on a trip to India with every spoonful of this Pilaf

If you’re looking for variations to jazz up your rice and lentil pilaf, there are several ingredients you can add or swap out to create an entirely new dish. Here are some ideas:

– Vegetables: Try adding diced carrots, potato or any vegetables of your choice to the pot while cooking. This will not only add flavor but also make it a more nutritious meal.

– Lentils: This recipe uses brown lentils, but you can opt for red lentils or any other lentil variety that you prefer. Using a mix of lentils can also make the dish more interesting.

– Rice: Basmati rice is commonly used in Indian cuisine, however, you can switch it up with brown rice or jasmine rice. Each variety of rice has a delicate texture and flavor profile that could complement the spices already present in the dish.

– Spices: You can play around with the spice mix by incorporating different spices like coriander or paprika. Freshly ground black pepper adds depth and complexity to the flavors of the pilaf.

Remember to taste your dish as you make substitutions to get an idea of how it tastes like and adjust accordingly. With versatile ingredients like these, the possibilities are endless. Enjoy experimenting with various combinations and find the perfect one for you.

Serving and Pairing

 A satisfying and healthy meal that's vegetarian-friendly
A satisfying and healthy meal that’s vegetarian-friendly

Once you’ve made this flavorful Indian-style rice and lentil pilaf, it’s time to serve it up and enjoy all its goodness. This dish is so versatile, you can enjoy it as a main meal or as a side dish, and it pairs well with a variety of foods.

For the main meal option, scoop a generous serving of the rice lentil pilaf onto your plate and pair it with a simple salad or grilled vegetables. The combination of the warm, comforting pilaf with the cold, crisp greens creates balance and brings out the flavors in both dishes. For added protein, you can also pair it with grilled chicken or tofu.

If you’re serving this dish as a side, keep in mind that it already contains ample protein from the lentils, so any additional protein might be unnecessary. It pairs particularly well with tandoori chicken or spiced lamb chops. The sweet and savory notes in this dish make it ideal for pairing with spicy foods like curry or vindaloo dishes. You can also add chopped nuts like almonds or cashews for extra crunch.

As for drinks, traditional Indian beverages like lassi or chai tea are great options to complement your rice lentil pilaf. Alternatively, a crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier will help cut through the heavy flavors of the dish and provide refreshment.

Whether you decide to serve this dish as a main dish or side dish, there are plenty of pairing options to choose from. Its versatility makes it an excellent option for potlucks, dinner parties, or as part of a weekly meal plan rotation. Just choose your preferred accompaniments and enjoy!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 From my kitchen to yours, try my take on a classic Indian dish
From my kitchen to yours, try my take on a classic Indian dish

One of the things I love the most about this Rice and Lentil Pilaf, besides its taste, is how versatile it is for meal planning. You can easily make it ahead if you are expecting a busy week or plan to entertain. It can also be reheated, so you don’t have to start from scratch every time.

If you need to make it ahead, cook the rice and lentils separately following the instructions in the recipe. Once they are done, let them cool down to room temperature before storing them in separate containers. Make sure to refrigerate and use within 3 days.

When you’re ready to serve, combine the rice and lentils in a saucepan on medium heat with 1/4 cup of water. Cover the saucepan with a lid and steam for about 5-7 minutes until heated thoroughly.

If you have leftovers or want to store the pilaf for later use, divide it into individual-sized portions and store in an airtight container in your freezer for up to one month. To reheat from frozen, defrost the pilaf overnight in the fridge before microwaving it using a microwave-safe dish.

It’s important to note that reheating rice may cause food poisoning if not done correctly; always follow food safety guidelines when storing and reheating cooked rice. Also, bear in mind that while this dish freezes well, there may be some texture changes when it’s reheated.

In summary, Rice and Lentil Pilaf is a great foundation for meal planning since you can make-ahead or freeze leftovers for future meals. However, make sure to follow precautions when reheating cooked rice and storing food safely.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Made with fragrant spices, tender lentils, and fluffy rice, this is comfort food at its best
Made with fragrant spices, tender lentils, and fluffy rice, this is comfort food at its best

When it comes to rice and lentil pilaf, the smallest details can make a huge difference in the outcome of your dish. Here are some tips and tricks to ensure you get the best results possible.

First and foremost, use fresh ingredients whenever possible. This means fresh vegetables, lentils, and spices. Fresh ground black pepper will give your pilaf an extra burst of flavor, and using fresh kosher salt will allow you to better control the seasoning of the dish.

Toasting your spices is also an essential step in creating a flavorful rice and lentil pilaf. You can toast cumin seeds, whole cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon sticks in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant before adding them to the dish.

When cooking brown rice or brown lentils for your pilaf, it’s important to rinse them thoroughly before cooking. This helps remove any dirt or impurities that may be present on the grains, resulting in cleaner flavors and textures.

Adding caramelized onions to your dish will elevate it from good to exceptional. To caramelize onions, cook thinly sliced onions in a generous amount of oil over low heat for about 20-30 minutes until they’re deeply golden brown and sweet.

Once your pilaf is finished cooking, let it rest for at least five minutes before fluffing it with a fork. This allows the grains to fully absorb any remaining moisture and ensures that each bite is perfectly cooked.

Using high-quality basmati rice also helps create a fluffy and fragrant pilaf. There are many different brands of basmati rice available on the market, so experiment with different ones until you find one that suits your taste preferences.

Finally, don’t be afraid to add your own twists on this classic recipe! Try adding diced potatoes or carrots for an extra boost of vegetables or substitute cranberry rice for a festive touch. The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating variations of this comfort food dish.


Before concluding this recipe article, I will answer some frequently asked questions to help you make the best out of your rice and lentil pilaf. From ingredient substitutions to cooking methods, I have gathered some of the most common inquiries to keep in mind while preparing this traditional Indian dish. So, let’s dive in!

Can you eat rice and lentils together?

When you combine lentils and whole grain rice in your meal, you get a healthy balance of both soluble and insoluble fibers. This is important because lentils have more insoluble fiber while whole grain rice has more soluble fiber. The soluble fiber aids in reducing cholesterol and stabilizing blood sugar levels. Once consumed, the soluble fiber creates a gel-like consistency in the stomach.

What is pilaf in India?

The process of making pilaf typically involves mixing rice with hot fat and quickly stirring before adding the cooking liquid. The type of fat used can differ depending on the recipe. The cooking technique can also vary, including steps such as pre-soaking the rice and incorporating steaming after boiling.

Is brown rice and lentils healthy?

Craving a tasty and nutritious meal or side dish that doesn’t require much effort or many ingredients? Look no further than brown rice and lentils! This dish is chock-full of healthy whole grains and protein-packed legumes, making it a great option for feeding a group or enjoying as a hearty solo meal. Plus, as a bonus, it can all be cooked in one pot!

Bottom Line


In conclusion, this Rice and Lentil Pilaf – Indian Style Recipe is truly irresistible! I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. Not only is it easy to make, but its delicious flavors will leave you craving for more.

This lentil dish is the perfect comfort food that can be served on its own or paired with any main entrée. Its aromatic spices and caramelized onions make it one of the best vegetarian rice dishes out there.

Remember, you can always play around with the ingredients to create your own variations. The possibilities are endless! This recipe has been tried and tested numerous times, so you can be confident that your results will be perfect every time.

So head over to your kitchen and whip up this delicious Indian Style Rice and Lentil Pilaf Recipe today. Trust me, you won’t regret it!

Rice and Lentil Pilaf - Indian Style

Rice and Lentil Pilaf - Indian Style Recipe

This is a comfort-food that is an adaptation of a Sara Moulton recipe. Basmati rice with the added flavors of whole spices toasted in oil, with lentils and potatoes. A bit of work, but well worth the effort.
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Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Calories 377.3 kcal


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 inches cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3/4 cup basmati rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup lentils
  • 1/2 lb potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (boiling kind, like Yukon gold or Red Bliss)
  • 3 medium carrots, grated
  • fresh ground black pepper


  • Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, bay leaf, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chiles, and cloves and then cook for about a minute while stirring, until the spices become fragrant. Take the spices out of the pot and reserve. Turn the heat down to med-low and add the onion to the pan. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, stirring once and a while, and then take the pot off the heat and set aside.
  • Rinse the rice in a colander. Once the rice is rinsed and drained, add it to the onion in the saucepan and put in the reserved spices and add the turmeric and cook over med-heat, stirring, for about 1 minute.
  • Add in 1 1/2 C water and 1/2 t salt to the mixture and bring it all to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan with a paper towel and then the lid. Let this simmer this way, over low heat, for approx.20 minutes, or until all the liquid has been soaked up. Take the pan off of the heat and set aside, leaving it covered, for approximately 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine the lentils, 2 C water and 1/2 t salt in a different saucepan and bring it to a boil over high heat. Then put a lif on it and simmer, over low heat. for approximately 25 minutes (until the lentils get tender).
  • Now, heat the remaining 2 T vegetable oil, over medium heat, in a large nonstick skillet. Add in the potatoes and cook for approx 10 or 12 minutes, until the potatoes get a bit browned (stirring occasionally). Take the heat down to low and cook for about 5 minutes more. Then you can add the carrots to the potatoes and cook for 3 more minutes, or just until both are tender.
  • Next, you can fluff the rice with a fork and take out the bay leaf, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves and chiles. Then drain your lentils and stir them into the rice along with the potato mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 236gCalories: 377.3kcalCarbohydrates: 53.7gProtein: 8.2gFat: 15.5gSaturated Fat: 2.1gSodium: 45.6mgFiber: 7.9gSugar: 5.9g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Grains, Indian, Potato, Rice, Vegan, Vegetable
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