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::save some for later:: Curried Lentils & Rice

I love lentils.  When I worked in the mall, my favorite mall food was the hole-in-the-wall Indian place in the scary food court.  Between their lentils and their chickpeas, I managed to sign up for the Vegetarian Meal Plan, and it as awesome.  At home, I love pretending I can make Indian food, and have made all sorts of curries, but I had yet to make a curried lentil dish.

I found a recipe in Saving Dinner when I was scrounging to make a recent grocery list.  After some disappointing meals from that book, I thought it might be worth a try changing it up.  I don’t want to outright bash that cookbook though.  It is great for meal planning, probably especially if you have a family.  For two people, I quickly learned, the recipe had to be GREAT, or it was going to waste.  Most of these meals make about 6 servings.  Lentils make for a cheap enough meal, so I gave it my best shot, and I am happy to say that while PTB was not crazy about it (vegetarian meals never get the ravest of reviews from him), he would eat it again.  Better yet, it freezes well, and reheats VERY easily.  So I have no problem making an entire pot just to freeze individual portions for me.

When I started this, I felt like I had learned enough to change EVERYTHING about it to make it something we would like.  I think I did that quite successfully.  The only thing I might do differently next time is use red lentils since they will make more of a stewed dish.  The green lentils I used had their husks in tact, so it gave the dish a bit of crunch.  But that wasn’t really a bad thing.

Ahhh – you can’t go wrong with curry powder & garam masala.  For real.  Ok!  Time to get started!

What You Need
Step One

2-3 Tbsp olive oil
medium onion
Step Two
2 cups uncooked lentils
1 3/4 cup vegetable broth (chicken broth is in the original recipe, but I went for all vegetarian)
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 clove garlic, minced
Step Three
1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 cups water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
Step Four
one can diced tomatoes
Step Five
6oz plain yogurt
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Since most of this meal just simmers, I didn’t take a lot of prep shots.  But it did provide some pretty ingredient pictures right?  Start by slicing your onion ultra thin.  In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onions to the pan and cook until perfectly caramelized.  Probably about 10-15 minutes.  You don’t need to watch them the entire time, just stir every now and then.  So feel free to use that time to measure everything else out.

Once the onions are browned, remove from heat and set aside.  Add all step two ingredients to the pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and leave for 5-10 minutes.

Add all step three ingredients to the pan.  If there is not enough liquid to cover the rice, add just enough to cover.  Cover the pan and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, get out your Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes.  Seriously – these things are amazing.  For this recipe I went with roasted garlic.  This original recipe btw – no real garlic.  WHAT?

I pureed my tomatoes a bit in my little cuisinart, leaving some texture, but I wanted it liquidy.  Add this to the pan and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until rice and lentils are tender.  Remember – if you used lentils that are not “shelled” they will have crunch no matter what!

Once everything is ready to go, add the onions, yogurt, and half the cilantro to the pan and serve.  Use the other half of the cilantro to top each dish.  It just looks prettier that way  🙂

For each leftover portion, I added a bit of vegetable broth so that when I reheat it was just as moist as the original dish, without losing any flavor.

Serves: 6     Cost: less than $1/serving!!

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