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This is a beautiful non-meat meal and the sauce makes it perfect.
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 8
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1½ cups dried brown or green lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups water, plus hot water as needed
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice (uncooked)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Crumbled dried mint leaves, for garnish
  • Mild red pepper flakes, such as Aleppo, for garnish (I used standard chilli flakes)
Turkish Yogurt Sauce
  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt or 1 quart regular plain yogurt
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Flaked sea salt
  • Up to ½ cup water
  • Pinch sugar (optional)
  • Up to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch mild red pepper flakes, such as Aleppo (I used dried chilli flakes)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon crumbled dried mint leaves, plus a few fresh mint leaves, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil to drizzle on top just before serving
  1. Line a baking sheet with a clean dish towel.
  2. Slice the onions from top to bottom into ⅛-inch slices. Gather them in a separate clean dish towel and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Spread them in a single layer on the lined baking sheet. Let sit for 1 hour, at room temperature. This step ensures the onions will be crunchy when you take them from the cooking oil.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the washed and picked lentils and water in a saute pan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes; at this point the lentils should still be slightly firm.
  4. Wash and rinse the rice under cool running water, until the draining water runs clear. Shake to drain well.
  5. Add the rinsed rice to the lentils, along with the black pepper and a pinch of salt. If the liquid level in the pan doesn’t cover the rice-lentil mixture, add just enough hot water to make that happen. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until the rice and lentils are tender. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  6. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. Set a wire cooling rack on top of it.
  7. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. (I only needed medium heat) Once the oil shimmers, add an onion slice to test the temperature; if the onion sizzles on contact, add the rest of the slices and fry for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat so that the onion doesn’t burn. They should become a rich golden brown.
  8. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the wire rack; season right away with a pinch of salt. Let stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour, so the fried onions can drain and dry/crisp up.
  9. Use a long fork or chopsticks to fluff the rice-lentil mixture, cover partially and let stand till the onion is ready.
  10. Add half the fried onions and their cooking oil to the rice-lentil mixture. Stir gently to incorporate. Let stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  11. To serve,fluff that mixture once more, then transfer to a large platter, mounding it. Scatter the remaining fried onions on top, along with the dried mint, a sprinkling of the salt and the red pepper flakes. Add some Turkish Yogurt Sauce on top and start eating!
Turkish Yogurt Sauce
  1. Line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Spoon the yogurt into it and let drain (see headnote); it should reduce to the consistency of a thick sour cream. Transfer to a shallow bowl.
  2. Use the flat side of a chef’s knife to crush the garlic. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and mash to form a paste.
  3. If the yogurt is too thick, whisk a tablespoon of water in until creamy and smooth. Whisk in the salted garlic ¼ teaspoon at a time, tasting along the way. If the mixture becomes acrid, stir in the optional pinch of sugar. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  4. Add the lemon juice (to taste) and the red pepper flakes, then season lightly with salt and black pepper. Whisk in the dried mint. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, or up to overnight.
  5. Just before serving, drizzle the oil over the yogurt and garnish with fresh mint, if desired.
Recipe by Orgasmic Chef at