Majadrah (Lentil and Rice Pilaf)
This warming blend of flavors and textures was created by Chef June Reznicoff.
Rinse the lentils. If possible soak them in warm water for at least 2 hours. Drain and set aside. (If you don't soak the lentils they may need more water and take longer to cook.) Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside 1 cup of the sauteed onions for garnish. Add the rice to the onions in the pan and saute until well coated with oil, about 1 minute.
Add the lentils, water, salt, pepper spices and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook covered over low heat for 20 minutes, longer if the lentils haven't been soaked Add small amounts of water as necessary - test the rice and lentils to see if they are ready.
Remove from the heat and let stand covered 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Remove the bay leaf. Serve on a large platter and scatter the remaining one cup of sauteed onions on top. Pass the yogurt as a garnish.