Sunday, November 06, 2011

Recipe for Curried Rice and Red Lentils

This nutritious combination of Curried Rice and Red Lentils is perfect for Meatless Monday.

(Updated with new photos and added to Recipe Favorites November 2011)  This dish combining Curried Rice and Red Lentils is an old favorite that I recently I made with Jake, and we both loved how the simple combination of ingredients creates so much flavor in this recipe.  I don't know that I was thinking about Meatless Monday when we decided to make this, but since the combination of lentils (or beans) and rice are famous in vegetarian cooking for the way they create a complete protein, it really is a recipe that's perfect for meatless meals.  And I'm happy I have new photos to update the post and stick to my pledge to try to have a meatless recipe on the blog every Monday, since I ended up spending the weekend at the house of my sister Valerie (Jake's mom) and just got home a few hours ago.

This was one of those recipes I loved from Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World, and when Jake and I cooked it the only change we made was to use stock to cook the lentil-rice combination instead of water.  We used chicken stock, but using vegetarian stock would make this vegan, and it's such a healthful and satisfying combination that we both agreed didn't need the butter Mark Bittman stirred in at the end.  Of course I liked the garnish of cilantro, but  if you're not a cilantro fan I think some sliced green onions or parsley would be nice.  There are many types of lentils, but it's important to use red lentils in this dish, so they'll be done in the 20 minutes it takes for the rice to cook. Here is a good reference about various types of lentils.

(You can find more meatless recipes by using the label Meatless Monday or checking Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index.  For Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers, check Meatless Monday at BlogHer, where I write a weekly feature spotlighting one of the fabulous meatless recipes I find around the web.)

Heat the oil in a heavy flat pan with a tight-fitting lid; then saute the onions until they're starting to get nicely browned on the edges.  (This browning adds a lot of flavor, so don't rush it.)

Then add the curry powder and saute it for 1-2 minutes, until it's very fragrant.

Add the water or stock and let it come to a boil; then stir in the rice and red lentils.  Bring it back to a boil, then reduce the heat to the barest possible simmer and let cook covered for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes check to see if rice and lentils are done and all the water is absorbed.  Ours was completely perfect, but if needed cook uncovered for a few minutes more.  Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve immediately.

And here's the original photo of this dish from 2006, not one of my worst but I certainly like the new photos a lot better!

Curried Rice and Red Lentils
(Makes 4-6 servings, adapted from The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman)

2 T vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 T curry powder (I used 2 1/2 tsp. Penzeys sweet curry and 1/2 tsp. Penzey's hot curry)
3/4 cup red lentils (also called dal or pulses)
1 cup long grain white rice (I used Uncle Ben's Converted Rice, which has the lowest Glycemic Index of any white rice.)
3 cups water, vegetable stock, or chicken stock
salt, pepper to taste
1-2 T melted butter (optional, we did not use any butter when we made this with stock, but I'd add a little if it was made with water)
chopped parsley or cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Put the oil in a large, heavy pan with a tight lid and heat for one minute. Add onion and saute 3-5 minutes, until starting to brown on the edges. Add curry powder and saute 1 minute, then add water and bring to a boil. Add lentils and rice, bring back to a boil, then lower heat to a steady simmer and cover.

Cook 20 minutes, or until rice is done and lentils are tender. (Bittman says if the liquid is not all absorbed, boil off the excess, but after 20 minutes all my water had been absorbed.) Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the melted butter just before serving, if using. Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro if desired.

I haven't tried freezing it, but my prediction would be that this freezes well.

South Beach Suggestions:
This recipe would be suitable for phase two or three of The South Beach Diet, if you use Uncle Ben's Converted Rice as mentioned above. Lentils are considered a "good carb" for South Beach. For a meatless meal, I would love this with Amazing Asian Green Salad or Tomato, Cucumber, and Radish Salad with Yogurt-Tahini Dressing on the side.

More Tasty Ideas with Red Lentils:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Mexican Red Lentil Stew with Lime and Cilantro from Kalyn's Kitchen
Spicy Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew from Kalyn's Kitchen
Indian-Style Red Lentils with Ginger from Kalyn's Kitchen
Seven Red Lentil Soup Recipes from Soup Chick
Spicy Red Lentil and Tomato Soup from Andrea Meyers
Black Quinoa and Red Lentil Salad with Parsley from Healthy Green Kitchen
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

(This recipe was originally posted for a blogging event hosted by my friend Paz.  For that event I confessed my intimidation with cooking Indian foods, and although I still have some of those feelings I do feel more confident trying an Indian-inspired recipe than I did back in 2006!)
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More to Chew On:


  1. Kalyn, the rice looks delish! Like you, i have to admit, am a little intimidated with the list of ingredients in indian cooking. Though i love to eat the lovely dishes, and there's so many mouthwatering dishes on display in Sailu's, Meena's and My Dhaba's blogs [too many to name!] as soon as i go through the list of ingredients, somehow, i lose confidence... i must pluck up some courage too one of these days!

  2. Mae, that's exactly how I feel! I love to read all those blogs and many more (Anthony's Kitchen, Mahanandi and One Hot Stove especially come to mind, but there are many more and I hope I'm not offending anyone that I'm forgetting to mention) but when I read the ingredients there are always a few things that I don't have (or don't even know what they are!) One of my friends just brought me a jar of Biryani Curry Paste that I'm going to try soon, although I know that no proper Indian cook would use curry paste from a jar!

  3. I love Indian recipes and am trying to learn more of them, which is much easier due to all the fabulous Indian blogs. The rice and lentils look wonderful--and I've been meaning to get the Mark Bittman book

  4. How delicious-looking and sounding! I like Mark Bittman's recipes. I think this is a great way to get started on preparing more Indian dishes! I love that you're able to adapt this recipe to The South Beach Diet for those who follow it. Really cool!

    Thanks, Kalyn!


  5. Hi Kalyn!
    I am an Indian and I must appreciate you for your attempt.It indeed looks lovely!I would like to mention few points here,

    there is no need to feel guilty that you have used butter instead of ghee,we too do substitute butter for ghee sometimes if we have run out of stock.The flavour difference is only very subtle!Afterall ghee is made by melting and clarifying butter!

    Secondly it is actually a misconception that all Indian dishes use ghee,being health conscious now, most Indian families use ghee only for special occasions and in day to day cooking we use any vegetable oil like peanut oil or some even switch to olive oil.

    There is no problem if you call it lentils or pulses,nothing wrong with it.You know that India is a vast country with different states,it is referred to as Dal mainly in the Northern states where as it is known by different names in other languages like Bele in Kannada,Parippu in Tamil and Malayalam!

    Coming to curry powder,yes most Indian families prepare their own powders.Although even this trend is changing.

    I have wriiten quite a long comment Kalyn I am sorry for that,it is just because I wanted you to feel no gulit in the way you have prepared.It is a great step to reach your goal

  6. Sher, I love the book. I know it's not the most authentic book for many cuisines, but it's quite close I think. Everything I've booked from it has been excellent.

    Paz, thanks for hosting, and thanks.

    Sumitha, thanks for your nice words about my humble attempt, and especially for taking time to help me learn a little more about Indian cooking.

  7. okay. I think the most interesting part is the low glycemic part about the rice. I had not idea! That is great information for me bc I have PCOS.

  8. Hey Kalyn,
    It's wonderful to see you prepare Indian Food and it looks absolutely mouthwatering- the rice and lentil mix is also called Khichdi, which was my entry into the FMR event. Glad to hear that WHB is back to it's own home for this weekend, will surely send an entry! Looking forward to the breakfast recipe from you...

  9. Great dish for Meatless Monday!

  10. Thanks Maria. This was definitely very tasty.

  11. Kalyn, this is exactly the kind of dish I could eat every day for lunch. Full of protein, full of spices and so comforting.

  12. Thanks Dara! Sadly I gave Jake the leftovers, so I didn't get to have it for lunch.

  13. It's nice to see a different kind of dish appear on food blogs. This looks delicious, and I like that it is vegetarian. I've never cooked with red lentils before (only green), but I"ll definitely give this a try :)

  14. Zesty, the red lentils are delicious and they cook really quickly.

  15. Hi Kalyn, just a nit, but for those of us easily confused, under the pic of the ONIONS browning, you have "Heat the oil in a heavy flat pan with a tight-fitting lid; then saute the rice until it's starting to get nicely browned on the edges." Otherwise, looks great!

  16. Ken, thank you SO MUCH! I am always so annoyed with myself when I do things like that but I'm ultra thankful when someone else catches it! Will fix right now.

  17. Kalyn, it has been too long since I had a chance to catch up with my favorites. MY oh MY does that look and sound perfect. Such beautiful colors.

    The meat lover in me wants to add some sort of chicken, but this is just spectacularly delicious sounding.

  18. I won't tell anyone if you add chicken, but I promise this is pretty satisfying as a meatless meal.

  19. Do you think this would freeze well? I'm afraid it would make too much for me.

  20. Yes, I do think it will freeze well. In fact, I'm adding that to the recipe right now!

  21. Could you make this with brown rice if you switched the red lentils for something longer cooking?

  22. I do think the dish would taste good with brown rice and brown lentils, or you could cook the brown rice for a while before you added the red lentils, which is what I'd do.

  23. How did you keep your lentils so distinct? Mine completely disintegrated in 20 minutes, and the finished dish looks like a weird, lumpy risotto. It's still delicious, but I was wondering if I did something wrong. I followed the instructions by the book. I used split red lentils (which is the only way I've ever seen them sold in my area). Did you use whole ones? Just curious. Thanks for the great dish! Even if I can't get my lentils to stay whole, this recipe is a keeper!

  24. Emily I did use split lentils. The first time Jake and I cooked this we weren't happy with how done the lentils were, so we made it again and kept the heat at the lowest possible simmer. I'd guess the heat is too high if your lentils were too done. If your stove won't go any lower, I'd start to check after 15 minutes.

  25. Kalyn -
    I made this last night with brown lentils. Mine may have been old and extra dry, so additional liquid was necessary. I also used a dark veggie stock, so it didn't turn out the same brilliant yellow color, but my family ate it and in my book that's a win! Thank you for introducing this to a plain meat-and-potato family.

  26. Beautiful post with an awesome recipe......Glad to have found you.

  27. Liz, glad to hear they liked it, even if it wasn't quite a colorful! Brown lentils will always take longer, and you're right that if they are old they will take even longer. But good to know they were good in this recipe.

    Alphana, thanks! Glad you like the blog.

  28. Kalyn, I made this dish tonight. I used butter and served it with yogurt and a chilli sauce. My family loved it.

  29. This looks wonderful and I'm sure that the flavors are great! Do you think it could be made using brown rice?

  30. Terry Ann, there is some discussion about that in an earlier comment. Brown rice takes longer to cook, so you'd either have to partly cook the rice before you add the lentils or use brown lentils, which take longer to cook than the red ones.

  31. I'm betting the red lentils are excellent with the curried rice!

  32. I love curried rice but usually do it as fried rice. I like the risotto style of this.

  33. very nice. i'm going to try it.

  34. This was delicious! I made it for dinner tonight. So incredibly easy. I used French lentils, which stayed a little firmer, but worked just fine in the dish. I also used jasmine rice (what I had on hand). I would definitely try this again with a basmati rice, too. Will definitely stay on my "what to make for dinner" list!

  35. Kristin, so glad you enjoyed it. And good to know it will work with substitutions too.

  36. Trying this with a can of coconut milk, a splash of wine and some water as the liquid component. I'll let you know how it works out.

  37. i just made this and it was so delicious! i used brown rice instead of white and i realized the cooking times and water amounts would be different as i was boiling the water. i just put in the rice first and let them cook a little bit, then the lentils. i had to add quite a bit more water, though. but it was tasty! Thank you.


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