Photo by: Richard Learoyd


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300g green lentils
200g basmati rice
40g unsalted butter
50g vermicelli noodles, broken into 4cm pieces
400ml chicken stock or water
½ tsp grated nutmeg
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
2 white onions, halved and thinly sliced

Spicy tomato sauce:
4 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 hot red chillies, seeded and finely diced
8 ripe tomatoes, chopped (tinned are fine)
370ml water
4 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
20g coriander leaves, chopped

This lentil and rice dish is one of the most popular in Egypt, sold hot by street vendors and specialist restaurants. It is not too far removed from the Indian kitchari, ancestor to the British kedgeree. Usually in Egypt it is served with a spicy tomato sauce, but it’s also delicious with cucumber, tomato and yoghurt salad.

Serves 4

(p 85, The Ottolenghi cookbook)


The method for this recipe is available in the book Ottolenghi, The Cookbook, available to buy here.
Ottolenghi, The Cookbook |


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  • Shop Excellent dish; the tomato sauce adds wonderful flavour
    (19/04/2015) I have made this in various ways over the years and it is always satisfying and delicious. I have substituted rice vermicelli for wheat version for gluten-free diners, which works fine. For nutritional reasons (reducing phytic acid) I use brown rice (soaked overnight) and soak the lentils. I've had to tweak the rice/vermicelli cooking to accommodate the longer cooking time for brown rice: I add the vermicelli to the rice about halfway through the 25 minute cooking time, and that works well. The tomato sauce really makes this dish, adding a tart burst of flavour where needed.