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Skillet of Middle Eastern Rice and Lentils

Middle Eastern Rice and Lentils

  • Author: Monkey and Me Kitchen Adventures
  • Prep Time: 30 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 Minutes
  • Total Time: 70 Minutes
  • Yield: 4-5 Servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern


Brimming with spices, this delicious Middle Eastern Rice and Lentils dish is an amazing combination of flavors, textures, and plant-powered goodness. Whole Food Plant Based, vegan, plant based, oil free, refined sugar free, gluten free, no highly processed ingredients.



Rice Ingredients:

  • 1 cup yellow onion, fine diced
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, fine dice
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 ¼ cups uncooked brown rice (or rice of choice)
  • 1 cup water (or broth)
  • 1 ¼ cups vegetable broth

Rice Herb/Spice Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 Tablespoons dried minced onions
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon harissa seasoning (+/-) *
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (+/-) *
  • 1 ¾ to 2 ¼ teaspoons cumin (+/-) *
  • ¼ + 1/8 teaspoon dried ground coriander (+/-) *
  • ¼ + 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (+/-) *
  • 1 to 1 ¼ teaspoons sea salt (+/-) *
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • pinch to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (+/-) *

Other Rice Ingredients:

  • 1– [ 14 oz. can ] brown lentils, drained and rinsed

Tomato Cucumber Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 cup seeded tomatoes, small dice
  • 2 baby English cucumbers, unpeeled, small dice
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons red onion, fine dice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt (+/-) *
  • Pinch black pepper (+/-)

Yogurt Tahini Garlic Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened plain plant yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon tahini
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt (+/-) *


  1. Measure out the Rice Herb/Spice ingredients into a small bowl, mix well, set aside.
  2. In a large ceramic/enamel-lined Dutch oven, skillet or similar stock pot, add the diced onions and red bell peppers, sauté over medium-high heat until the onions and peppers begin to soften, approximately 5 to 7 minutes, stirring periodically to prevent burning. Add a tablespoon or so of water if they start to stick and/or to prevent burning.
  3. Add the minced garlic, tomato paste and Rice Herb/Spice mix and sauté for 1 minute, then add the rice, stirring constantly to thoroughly coat the rice with the seasoning/tomato paste mixture, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the vegetable broth and water, bring to boil, stir well to combine, then immediately lower to a simmer, then place the lid on the skillet/pot and allow to cook undisturbed for 18 minutes. Then remove the lid (do not stir) and allow to cook for another 10 minutes undisturbed with the lid off. After the 10 minutes has expired, then gently pull up a few grains of rice to test for tenderness.  If the rice is tender, go to Step 7 for the rice (but also see steps 5 and 6).  If not and all the liquid has evaporated, add a 1 tablespoon or so of water and continue simmering until the rice is tender. Resist the urge to stir.
  5. In the meantime, place all the Tomato Cucumber Topping ingredients into a bowl and stir. Set aside until the rice is done.
  6. In the meantime, place all the Yogurt Tahini Garlic Sauce Ingredients into a bowl and stir. Set aside until the rice is done.
  7. When the rice is done, lay and gently spread the lentils over the top of the cooked rice (do not stir the rice), cover with a lid and remove from the heat, and allow to sit for 3 minutes. You just want the lentils heated through, then stir the lentils into the rice. Serve individual servings topped with Tomato Cucumber Topping over the rice, drizzle with the Yogurt Tahini Garlic Sauce.


*Rice: The key to creating a great stove top rice dish is resisting the urge to stir the rice while it is cooking. Stirring causes the rice to release starches and become more like a creamy risotto, which we don’t want.  Just pull up a few rice kernels off the top of the dish to test for rice tenderness.  Do this in several places, center and at the edges. If not tender, just continue to cook until tender.  If all the liquid evaporates, then add a tablespoon of water and continue to simmer until tender.  Repeat the process above until the rice is done.  Please note that the timing of cooking dry rice is based upon several factors:  1) the type of rice selected 2) the brand of rice selected 3) the age of the rice and 4) the cooking method.  Each plays a factor in how long rice takes to cook.  We used Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain Brown Rice for this dish.

*Harissa Seasoning (North African Heat):  We use Frontier Co-Op Organic Harissa Seasoning.  We love this seasoning blend.  Harissa Seasoning can sometimes be difficult to find in stores.  We found it at Whole Foods.  You can also purchase it off of Amazon or create your own blend.  Be careful to not purchase Harissa that is packed in oil.  The Frontier Co-Op brand is a blend of spices and herbs and is WFPB.

*Spices:  This recipe is easily customizable to suit your own personal spice preferences. You can increase or decrease the spices accordingly.  This dish is intended to pack some heat.  If you decide to cut back on the cayenne pepper or Harissa Seasoning, you will need to boost other spices accordingly.

*Sea Salt:  Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.

*Storage:  Refrigerate, use within 5 days.

*Makes:  4 servings

*Nutritional Information:  Does not include Tomato Cucumber Topping Ingredients or Yogurt Tahini Garlic Sauce Ingredients.