Syrian Lentils with Slow-Fried Onions

Syrian Lentils with Slow-Fried Onions

by Jenny Chandler

This delicious recipe is from Jenny Chandler's fantastic new Green Kids Cook, a cookbook that teaches the cooks of the future how to eat well, look after themselves and think about the planet. It's a great way to cook our British-grown lentils in a typical Syrian style.

Lentils are amazing little seeds that grow inside a pod. They’re packed with the protein, nutrients and fibre that we need to survive, while the plants themselves are great at keeping the soil they grow in healthy, too. Good for us, good for the planet!

It’s worth cooking up a batch of the slow-fried onions on their own, to go alongside roasted veggies, into sandwiches, to top pizzas, and to stir into soups and dals.

Makes 4 servings


  • 3 onions
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (or try our British-grown organic rapeseed oil!)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • a pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 250g / 1½ cups brown or green lentils
  • a small bunch of fresh coriander: stalks chopped finely, leaves left whole
  • 1 litre / 4 cups water
  • juice of ½–1 lemon
  • salt and pepper


  1. Finely slice the onions.
  2. Put the onions into a large heavy saucepan along with the oil and fry over a low heat, giving the onions a stir every few minutes and allowing them to soften, sweeten and turn gold. This may take about 20 minutes. Be patient, my friend!
  3. When the onions are ready, spoon about half of them into a small bowl to use later. Turn up the heat under the remaining onions in the pan and add the garlic, cumin and chilli. Stir and, as soon as you can really smell the garlic, add the lentils, the fresh coriander stalks and the water.
  4. When the lentils are bubbling and boiling, turn down the heat to low, put a lid on the pan and cook for about 30 minutes until the lentils soften and begin to break down. Keep an eye on them – the lentils need a stir every 5 minutes and if all the water has been soaked up and completely disappeared you should add 100ml/generous 1/3 cup more. Watch out for the steam!
  5. When the lentils are really soft, have a taste and season with salt, pepper and enough lemon juice to freshen the dish up. Stir in the coriander leaves and garnish with the remaining sweet fried onions.
  6. Serve with Flatbreads, pitta bread or some good old toast, and perhaps a dollop of yogurt or the Yogurt and Cucumber Dip if you are feeling indulgent.

Extracted from Green Kids Cook by Jenny Chandler (Pavilion Books). Image credit Kirstie Young.

Jenny Chandler
Jenny Chandler


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