Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Curried Lentils and Rice

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Lentils and rice -- possibly the most perfect combination of legume and grain -- can be the base for many creative dishes. Together, they provide the carbohydrate and fiber that are essential to a balanced meal. I've also come to appreciate the two together because they provide contrasting textures that make the dish more interesting. The biggest problem with cooking lentils and rice together is the timing -- rice gets cooked more quickly than lentils. So if you try to cook them together, you'll either get mushy rice or tough lentils. After testing the recipe a few times, I think I've got the solution to this problem.

To make this curried lentils and rice, you'll need --
  • 1/2 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 3/4 cup brown Basmati rice, rinsed
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add lentil and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in rice and simmer for another 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. At this point, lentils and rice are not completely cooked. In a large nonstick pot, sweat onion in canola oil until softened and translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger, ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric and ground cardamom. Stir in lentils and rice mixture. Bury cinnamon stick and Bay leaf in the rice and lentils. Add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup water. Cover and turn the heat way down. Leave undisturbed for 20 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick and Bay leaves and serve.

How to dress up this curried lentils and rice is totally up to you. I topped my curried lentils and rice with chopped pineapple, jalapeno peppers, mint, parsley, peanuts and baked tofu. Then I drizzled everything with a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, lime juice, minced garlic, jalapeno, and shallots. I like the combination of sweet, spicy, salty, and sour -- all the taste buds are fired up and having a good time.

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