Cypriot lentils with rice - Fakes Moutzentra

Cypriot lentils with rice - Fakes Moutzentra

Cypriot lentils with rice are known to the locals as fakes (lentils) moutzentra. It’s a traditional Cypriot dish enjoyed for the nourishment and tastiness it provides. A peasant type of food with very simple ingredients. The ingredients for the Cypriot lentils with rice are very few. The flavour is elevated by adding lemon juice, caramelized onions and the fragrant fresh coriander, which I personally love to stir through (or you may choose to add parsley). Moutzentra can be made with green or brown lentils, depending on what you can find. Brown lentils are slightly smaller and they require slightly less cooking time. However, both types of lentils do not require soaking in water before cooking, unlike other legumes.


500 g green or brown lentils
1/3 cup basmati rice 70g
400 mL hot water
4 small red onions 400g, sliced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1/3 cup lemon juice
10 sprigs of fresh coriander or parsley, chopped after ends are removed


  1. Add the rice to a bowl, wash and let it soak in water until it is time to use it. Clean out any dirt or inconsistent lentils and wash them.
  2. Bring the lentils to the boil using hot water to cover them, about 2L. Then simmer for 8-15min (see notes1), just before they get too tender.

  3. While the lentils are cooking use olive oil to fry the onions until they are golden and soft, on medium heat. Make sure you stir often so they don’t burn on the bottom. This will take about 15-20min.

  4. Use a colander to remove the water from the lentils and wash them from any grit. Return them to the pot and add 400mL of hot water, rice, salt and pepper. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to low-medium. Let it cook for a 10min with the lid on.
  5. Once the rice is cooked, stir through the lemon and the cooked onions with all the leftover olive oil from the frying pan. Place a towel and the lid on top to let it rest off the heat for 10min at least. Before serving stir the chopped fresh coriander through the lentils and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.