Rice with lentils is a perfect match made in heaven. It’s a delicious & flavorful combination of lovely tastes & texture all in one yummy bite. For most Indians, rice & dal are not only daily staples – but they are also comfort foods.
I was recently introduced to brown Basmati rice – don’t knock it, this stuff is tasty! It’s also very healthy & nutritious – combine it with lentils & you’ve got one healthy meal. Brown Basmati is a rich source of dietary fiber, iron & protein since both the bran & germ are still intact. You can easily substitute brown Basmati for regular Basmati in most rice dishes. Brown Basmati rice is now widely available in most large supermarkets & Indian grocery stores. Brown rice in general takes a little longer to cook, so plan accordingly.
My Brown Basmati & Lentil Pulao is protein packed. I often serve it simply with a little home made yogurt & some crispy papads (Indian lentil crackers).
BROWN BASMATI & LENTIL PULAO
1 cup brown Basmati rice, rinsed well (about 3-4 times or until the water is clear)
½ cup masoor dal (whole brown lentils)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1” piece of ginger, peeled & finely grated
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 tsp pulao masala (or you can use kala masala or garam masala)
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
salt & pepper, to taste
¼ cup lightly toasted pine nuts (or you can use toasted unsalted cashew pieces)
1 tsp fresh lime zest
juice of ½ lime
2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter), butter, or oil (vegetable or canola)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
Soak the brown Basmati rice in enough water to cover for 1 hour, this will help speed up the cooking process. Drain well & set aside until needed.
While the rice is soaking, you can cook the masoor dal. If you are using dry lentils, you cook them very easily on the stovetop. In a small sauce pan on high heat, add 2 cups of water along with the masoor dal. Bring to a good boil, cover, reduce the heat to simmer and let cook until the dal is tender but not mushy (about 20-30 minutes). Do not overcook the dal. Alternatively, you could cook the dal in a pressure cooker if you wish. Set aside until needed.
In a deep skillet or pan on medium high heat, add the ghee. When hot, add the cumin seeds & let them sizzle. After about 30 seconds, add the bay leaf along with the onions. Stir & sauté the onions until they are lightly browned. Next, add the ginger & the spices (pulao masala, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, salt & pepper). Stir well & let the spices cook for a few minutes before adding the rice. Mix well to combine, making sure all the rice grains are well coated with the spices. Let the rice “toast” until fragrant & aromatic, then add 2 cups of water. Stir & bring to a gentle boil. Now reduce the heat to low, cover & let simmer for about 40-45 minutes. Then turn off the heat, remove the pan from the stove top & let sit covered for another 10-15 minutes. Gentle fluff with a fork, this method will yield perfect brown Basmati rice every time.
Lastly, add the cooked lentils along with the pine nuts, lime zest & lime juice. Stir well to combine all of the ingredients & let cook for 4-5 minutes to allow all the flavors to properly mingle. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with cilantro leaves & serve as part of any Indian meal. I like to add just a little ghee before eating :-)
How To Sprout Beans, Lentils and Dals:
Only whole lentils, beans and dals can be sprouted. Rinse your dal carefully under cool running water. In a large bowl, soak the dal overnight in enough water to cover completely. Drain, rinse well and transfer the dal back to the bowl and cover with a slightly damp cheesecloth (or dish towel). Store in a dark warm area. Check periodically to make sure there is enough moisture, but you should see lovely sprouts within 24 hours.