1/2 cup rice
1 cup risoni or macaroni
1 cup lentils
1tsp ground cumin
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
1/2tsp ground cardamom
1/2cup vinegar (see notes)
1 tin crushed tomatoes (see notes)
1 small chilli
2 small onions (see notes)
Cook each of the rice, pasta, and lentils until done. Slice the onion to thin rings and fry or oven roast to crispy brown. Mix rice and pasta, put in a heatproof dish and keep warm in over.
Mix 1/2 of the tsp cumin, the vinegar, the lentils, and the garlic powder, spread in an even layer over the rice/pasta, return to oven. I also like to add 1/2tsp of the salt to this mixture.
Now mix the tomato, herbs, chilli, salt, and sugar in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, at which time you should pour this over the mixture in the dish without disturbing the layers too much. See notes for what to do with raisins.
Top with the crispy onion and serve. This will feed two quite handily, and can be used as a side or entree for four.
I've hacked this recipe a little bit to reflect what I remember it tasting like when I was in Arabia as a kid.
You can use tinned chopped tomatoes or (as I prefer) about two or three cups of chopped fresh tomatoes and a tablespoon of tomato paste. If you do, you'll need to simer this sauce for about 15 minutes. Either way, add the rasins about a minute before you're ready to take the sauce off and pour it.
Try rice vinegar and palm vinegar instead of white vinegar - surprising how much difference it makes to the end flavour.
And I've used Asian fried red onions as a topping for this and it's just as nice as fresh.