Ah, rice and lentil dal. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
- It’s simple/easy
- It’s filling
- It’s comforting
- It’s quick
- It’s a two-pot dish
I love this dish. I really do. It’s my go-to when I can’t be bothered to go to the grocery store because I’m too lazy or the roads are too bad due to the snow, or when I don’t feel like cooking something too elaborate. I always have lentils and rice in my pantry. They’re good food items to have in your pantry for those lazy days.
White rice isn’t really all that good for you because there’s no nutritional value, but I don’t care. I NEED to have rice. I’m half Korean so my body, or genes rather, screams for it. I swear if I don’t have rice at least once a week my body has a hissy fit. However, the lentils DO provide some nutrition.
Lentils are considered part of the legume family but you’ll also see it considered a pulse. Not really sure where lentils fall? Neither am I and I always get confused. So, let’s see if I can break it down. According to Pulse Canada:
The term “legume” refers to the plants whose fruit is enclosed in a pod. Legumes represent a vast family of plants including more than 600 genera and more than 13,000 species. When growing, legumes fix nitrogen into the soil, which reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. Well-known legumes include alfalfa, clover, fresh peas, lupins, mesquite, soy and peanuts.
Pulses are part of the legume family, but the term “pulse” refers only to the dried seed. Dried peas, edible beans, lentils and chickpeas are the most common varieties of pulses. Pulses are very high in protein and fibre, and are low in fat. Like their cousins in the legume family, pulses are nitrogen-fixing crops that improve the environmental sustainability of annual cropping systems.
Lentils are also a good complex carbohydrate. As a legume, lentils have lysine which is an essential amino acid. I think I might do a complete research post on legumes and the benefits. So, I won’t go into great detail here. Suffice it to say, lentils are good for you…just don’t eat them the day or night before you have a date, meeting, or special function. And don’t get mad at your partner when they wake you up in the middle of the night with a mysterious odor. I think I’ve woken myself up a few times in the past!
So, back to the recipe. I have Michael Smith’s cookbook. I’ve had it for a while but I haven’t used it too much since I’ve been on a plant-based diet. I do, however, ALWAYS go back to the Indian Rice & Dal recipe.
When I make this recipe, I don’t add the jalapeno (ring of fire!), cilantro (I hate it), nor the onion and garlic for the rice. I don’t like a lot of onions or garlic. That doesn’t mean you can’t though. Add whatever you like! In the cookbook he says “for even more authentic Indian flavor, try adding cumin seeds to the dal.” I might try that myself next time.
So, you start out by dicing an onion, mince a few garlic cloves, and put it in a pot. Wash your lentils before you add them to your pot. It’s a little disturbing to see how dirty the water is when you do wash them. Once they’re clean, add them and the water to the pot along with the curry powder and salt. Don’t add too much curry powder or it might end up being too spicy. I find that if I add the full 3 cups of water, then my dal will end up being a little too watery. I like mine to be a bit thicker so I only add 2 3/4 cups. You might find 3 cups is good for you, though, so try that first and see how it works. I crack the lid on my pot to help the water to evaporate a bit too.
For the rice, melt the butter and add the rice. I skipped adding the onion and garlic. Make sure to cook the rice a bit in the butter, coating all the grains. This is the pilaf method and makes your rice look fluffy and not so sticky. The Kitchn explains it really well here. Then you add the water and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
Then when your rice is done, serve everything together. You can sprinkle cilantro on yours but I never do. Cilantro tastes like grass to me. I have served this with naan bread before and that always goes down well with the Hubs and little one.
This dish takes like no time at all to do so it’s perfect for when you have a busy night, you’re late coming home, or too lazy like me. It practically cooks by itself; you just let everything simmer. This is also excellent for lunch the next day! One piece of advice: make sure you use red lentils and not green. Red lentils cook faster. Happy cooking and Happy Friday y’all!!