There are many dishes like this throughout the Middle East. Our recipe was inspired by mujedrah, a Jewish culinary classic from Aleppo in Syria. We suggest using dry lentils instead of the canned version, which will likely turn into a purée when cooked with the rice.
Serve with mint and garlic yogurt or a good tomato sauce, then garnish with Aleppo pepper, to taste.
Cook the lentils in 6 cups of boiling water for 15 minutes to soften. Drain and set the cooking liquid aside.
Heat a large pan on medium. Add oil and sauté the vermicelli lightly until they become golden. Drain into a colander placed above a bowl to recuperate the oil. Set the vermicelli aside.
Pour the saved oil and onions into the pan and cook for at least twenty minutes, until the onions are well caramelized (add a bit more oil if needed). Leave one quarter of the onions in the pan and set aside the rest.
Add the rice, ground spices and salt to the pan. Mix well and let simmer for 1 minute. Incorporate the vermicelli, lentils and 2 cups of cooking water from the lentils (add more water if necessary).
Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to low heat and cook for twenty minutes. Turn off the heat and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.