brown rice

Middle Eastern Barley, Lentils and Brown Rice

This mouthwatering spicy mix of grains and lentils is so flattering to numerous other tastes that you should consider making this in a double batch. Freeze the 2nd batch in small portions so that on a rainy day you have something to reheat in the microwave or serve as a side dish. The original version appears in Monday-to-Friday. I am astonished by how many grains and bean dishes I have developed over the years but pleased because these days Michael and I don’t eat much beef or chicken.

Makes 4 main-course or 6 side-dish servings


2-4 tablespoons olive oil (guess the amount I use)

2 onions, finely chopped

2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon white wine or cider vinegar

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-teaspoon ground cumin

½-teaspoon ground cardamom

½ cup each pearl barley, long or short grain brown rice and

lentils (preferable French lentils)


Salt and freshly ground black pepper

½-cup dried currants, or raisins

1-cup walnuts, chopped

2 cups, loosely packed, stemmed, and washed fresh mint leaves

Salt and Pepper


Heat the olive oil, over high heat, in a 4-quart saucepan. Add the onions and sugar & sauté over high heat for about a minute. Lower the heat, cover the saucepan, and cook for another 5 minutes or until onions are tender. Add the vinegar, garlic, cumin, and cardamom and sauté for about 30 seconds just to release the aroma.

Add barley, brown rice, lentils, and 3 cups of water.  Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 25-35 minutes or until grains and lentils are tender. If grains and lentils are tender, but they’re still is some water in the saucepan, remove the cover and stir over medium heat until the water has evaporated.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir in the currants, walnuts, and fresh mint leaves. Adjust the seasoning and let the saucepan sit off the heat for 10 minutes.


The French lentils hold their shape more than supermarket lentils.

I prefer currants because they provide smaller bites of sweetness than do raisins.

To bring in a touch of balancing acidity, add a few drops of vinegar, or fresh lemon or lime juice at the end.

If you want to eat this cold, cool, refrigerate and add some mustard and vinaigrette before serving.

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