Thursday, April 03, 2008

Rice and lentils

Rice and lentils offer complementary proteins, and are often paired in recipes. Here is a basic one that I came up with.

It seems neater to cook the rice and lentils together, rather than to boil them separately, drain them, and mix them. That means using the dreaded absorption method. I have found two brands whose rice does not turn into a starchy lump when cooked in this way: Crazy Jack and Essential. (Tesco's is hopeless; but fine when boiled in plenty of water.)

For dishes such as this, or a pilaf, it is no good measuring the water as you would when cooking the rice on its own. Twice its volume of water might not cover it, because of the volume of the other ingredients.

These quantities give generous portions for two. Rice and lentils is good with poached eggs. Or perhaps with leeks in a cheese sauce.

2 onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1tsp cumin seeds
Olive oil
100g Puy or other green lentils, rinsed in a sieve
100g basmati rice, rinsed in a sieve
1tsp harissa, or more to taste
Salt, black pepper

Soften the onion and garlic with the cumin seeds in a tbsp or two of oil. Tip in the lentils and harissa, and pour over enough water to cover by about a cm; bring to a simmer, turn down the heat, and cover. Keep checking, and top up with water if necessary.

When the lentils are starting to soften, tip in the rice. Add more water, again covering the contents of the pan with about a cm to spare, return to a simmer, replace the lid, and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, and leave for a further five minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

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