My late Lebanese grandfather used to call this rice pilaf ‘convict food’, because it was a cheap way to feed the masses or a growing family of teenagers. It’s a dish that I grew up on, mainly because my very-much-Anglo Dad used to cook it weekly, filling the house with the aromatics of onions cooking in olive oil. I can’t speak as highly for the aromas that one may self-produce a few hours after consuming the dish in large quantities though….

This is my version that I produced in the cooking part of my audition for The Chef’s Line on SBS. While I didn’t get through the final round, my cousin Lynette was successful, and she certainly did our family proud!


  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 brown onions
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 6 large dates, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup pinenuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup hummus


  1. Finely slice the onions and add to the olive oil in a frypan over medium heat. Stir until caramelised, then add the cumin and allspice.
  2. Add the stock, lentils and rice and simmer until the stock is absorbed, stirring frequently to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom (about 20 minutes or so).
  3. Remove from the heat and top with the hummus, parsley, dates, pine nuts and pomegranate seeds (and if you’re feeling extra fancy, also throw on a dash of pomegranate molasses!).