Tag Archives: Lentils

Brown Rice and Lentil Pilaf

We have officially entered the phase of eating from the bottom shelf of the cabinet–that’d be the dry goods shelf.  The non-perishable (for a really long time) food shelf.  It’s where I turn when everything else in the house is long gone, but I still want a healthy meal.

And when I want that meal to be done cooking before I graduate from PT school, I turn to lentils.

Sometimes I just don’t have the patience for dried beans.

To kick it up a notch, I decided to transform this into a pilaf with a Middle Eastern flair.  With a healthy dose of garam masala (recipe here) and some canned tomatoes, this recipe went from lackluster side dish to spicy and exciting main entree.

Well, I find it exciting.  I am aware that not everyone feels as passionate about ground coriander and brown rice as I do.

Brown Rice and Lentil Pilaf

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 C dried red or green lentils (I used red)
  • 1 C uncooked brown rice
  • 2 C broth (I used beef, but you could use chicken or veggie)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 T garam masala
  • 1/2 t dried garlic (or 1 clove fresh), minced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • salt and pepper to taste

Over medium heat, sauté the onions in olive oil until browned.  Once they are ready, add the spices (garam masala, garlic, and cinnamon stick) and toast for a minute or two until fragrant. 

In a separate pot, bring two cups of water to boil and add the brown rice.  Cook until just about tender–a little al dente is best.

Add the lentils and broth to the spices and onion.  Stir and cover, allowing it to simmer on low until the broth is absorbed and the lentils are cooked (this will go faster with red lentils than green).

When the lentil mixture is ready (and the rice cooked), combine the two and stir.  Add the can of tomatoes and stir in.  If you want, you can add a sprinkle of sugar but it’s not necessary.  Cover for a few minutes until the remaining liquid is absorbed and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

My favorite way to eat lentils is to broil a green bell pepper cut in half vertically, and fill with the rice and lentil mixture.

Sadly, we had no green bell peppers.

I ran out of grocery money for the month, remember?

Don’t be like me.

We had to eat it plain–but luckily, it was still delicious (not to mention full of essential amino acids).


Filed under Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Meatless Monday: Mjdara (Lentils with Rice)

Today is Tuesday, not Monday. 

Just wanted to make sure that you knew that I knew that.

But with finals going on like crazy, I didn’t get a chance to post this yesterday (plus, I posted the nut rocha yesterday–let’s not get too greedy here!), so today you get a surprise “Meatless Monday (was yesterday) post”.  I was considering just skipping for the week, but I made mjdara, or lentils with rice, and it was so good that I thought it deserved to make it into the world-wide web.

Mjdara is from the “African” section of a cookbook my mom gave me (thanks, Mom!) for Christmas last year, called Global Feast Cookbook.  It doesn’t say much about it in the book, so I googled it–and Wikipedia told me it originated as a “poor man’s food” in Africa and the Middle East, where meat was much more difficult to get than just heading over to your local BJ’s.  It also said that despite its lowly beginnings, now it’s a “health-conscious man’s” food (I made up that terminology), due to all of its wholesome ingredients.

So let’s get to it!

Mjdara (Lentils With Rice)

  • 2 C lentils
  • 2 t salt
  • 3/4 C uncooked brown rice
  • 1-2 onions, chopped (I used one, and some green onion)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • optional: 1/2 C raisins, 1 tomato, chopped
  • also optional: ham, pistachios (…no thanks!)

This is a pretty easy and hands-off recipe.  Combine lentils, salt, and enough water to cover (with an inch of water on top) in a saucepan, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes on low, stirring occasionally.  Add the rice, tomatoes, raisins, and extra water if necessary, cover, and cook for 30 more minutes until the rice is tender.

Meanwhile, saute the onions in olive oil in a skillet until softened.

I love purple onions.  They take such amazing photos.

When the lentils are all smushy (technical cooking term), and the rice is tender, add the onions and mix well.

Sprinkle with freshly grated black pepper and serve hot.  I like to serve anything lentilly (another technical term) in a broiled green pepper half.  The two tastes just go together perfectly, even with the sweet raisins.  Fritz is also a big fan of this method.

What do you think?  Like the text?  Someday when I’m a famous gourmet physical therapist (wait…that’s an odd career choice…), I think photos like these will look fantastic introducing my favorite recipes in my New York Time’s best-selling cookbook. 

Maybe when that happens, the heat in my apartment will work.

Want to hear that story?

This morning, as I studied for my P&O final exam, I noticed something odd.  Mainly, that I was shivering–while wearing leggings, fleece pants, two pairs of socks, a sweater, and a blanket.  I kept turning the thermostat up (sorry Chris!), but it didn’t seem to get any warmer.  Actually,it got colder.  I knew something was seriously wrong when Henry cuddled up to me–at first I felt very flattered, but I quickly realized it was more of a desire for body heat than a blatant showing of affection.

He’s not much of a cuddler.

I looked at the thermostat and it was set at ninety but the actual temperature of the apartment was fifty-eight.  That’s right.  Fifty-eight degrees.  Luckily, that got fixed a while later (apparently some water froze in our oil tank), and now it’s slowly warming up again.  However, there are still a few remnants of our morning Ice Age:

That would be the ice that has formed on the inside of our bathroom window.  The inside. 

I can tell tonight’s going to be a heat blanket kind of night.


Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian

Get Your Lentil On: Masoor Dahl (and drying herbs)

I love me some Indian food.  Fritz’s sister Eber bought us (well, me) a cookbook called complete indian cooking for a wedding gift and every single recipe I have made from it (and it has been quite a few) has been absolutely delicious.  I bought a couple of bags of dried lentils the other day, and I was in the mood to make something spicy yet comforting: masoor dahl.

I’ll let the book speak for itself for once:

“This spicy lentil dish…is high in nutrients as well as tasting delicious, so you can feel good about its benefits as well as enjoying its fantastic flavors.  Lentils are full of nutrients and have a high energy value.  They are rich in protein, carbohydrates, phosphorus, and iron, as well as the B vitamins.”

I love feeling good about my food, don’t you?

Masoor Dahl (adapted from complete indian cooking)

  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1 t cloves
  • 1/2 t freshly ground cardamom
  • 1″ cinnamon stick
  • 2 t ground ginger
  • 1/2 t red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 t garam masala
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 C lentils
  • 4 T lemon juice
  • salt to taste

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat, and add the cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom and fry until fragrant.  Add the garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, and garam masala and cook for about five minutes.

Add the lentils, stir, and cook for one minute.

 Add salt to taste and enough water to come roughly 1 1/4″ above the lentils.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about half an hour until very thick and tender.

Meanwhile, I decided that to spice these lentils up I’d serve them in a roasted green bell pepper.  Halve the pepper, throw out the seeds, and place under the broiler until tender and browned.

When the lentils are tender, stir in the lemon juice and spoon into bell peppers.  Serve immediately.

Fritz was such a big fan of this meal that I had to stick another bell pepper in the oven so he could have seconds, and then a serving to bring to school for lunch tomorrow.

Speaking of Fritz and school, he has his first patient tomorrow!  I’m so excited for him–he says he’s not even nervous anymore because he is too overwhelmed trying to remember everything he has to do.  But I’m sure he will do amazingly well.  So good luck dental class!  If I had time between now and then I’d bake you a tooth cake (oh!! tooth cake pops! what a great idea!!), but I have to go do some homework myself.

I’ll leave you with a photo essay of my new accomplishment for the day.  This morning there was frost on the ground, and I knew I had to salvage whatever I could from my herb garden before everything dies.  I have waaay too much thyme and sage, so if you live near me and would like some to dry, please let me know!

what our herb garden looked like when it had just started growing

I am going to grab a few paper bags tomorrow when I go grocery shopping to put over the hangers so dust doesn’t collect in them, so hopefully they dry well.  I’m off to do some orthopedics homework, so have a beautiful night!

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Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian