Red Lentil Rice

Fall is here! That means hearty meals that keep you feeling full and warm. Around Seattle, we’re lucky to have access to a variety of cuisines, though I would not say we’re known for our Indian food. This lack of good curries and naan eventually drove me into the arms of this Red Lentil Rice recipe, otherwise known as Masoor Dal Pulao–a lightly sweet, highly aromatic dish that takes less effort than you might imagine to make. I’ve taken some time to make it my own and perfect it; it’s one of our staples!

I wanted to have pictures. Oh, how I ache to give you pictures! Unfortunately, my (new!) camera decided it would have none of the steam rising from my simmering dish and promptly, um, broke. I can’t get more exact than that; it just won’t go. So you will have to imagine how this looks: fluffy, yellow, with bits of green and red. Heaven in a bowl.

Red Lentil Rice

Serves 3

  • 1 tsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion – chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1-inch piece of ginger – minced or grated
  • 1 or 2 green chiles – sliced (I often use green bell pepper)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cloves (or 3 whole cloves)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tomato – diced
  • 1 cup white rice – preferably basmati or any long-grained rice
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 2 1/4 cups light coconut milk – replace with stock or water to save calories
  • lemon juice (optional)

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, bay leaf, cumin, clove, and salt. Allow the spices to warm gently for about a minute before adding the onion and chilies.

When onions and chilies have softened, add tomato, turmeric, and garam masala. Allow to warm for two minutes. Add the lentils and rice. Cook until the rice becomes translucent.

Add the coconut milk, reduce heat to low, and cover the pan. Allow to simmer for ten minutes, or until rice is cooked. Give everything a gentle stir once finished.

Give each serving a little spritz of lemon juice to complete the flavor.


By Michelle Miller

Michelle Miller is a twenty-something blogger, cook, freelance writer and editor living in Seattle, Washington. She’s a feminist trying ever-so-hard to embrace her spaces, conventional or not. She looks forward to numerous bad hair days, burnt cremes, a soapbox or two, and maybe (just maybe) a yellow polka-dot bikini in the years ahead.

6 replies on “Red Lentil Rice”

I suspect it would freeze quite well. My only concern would be with the rice, since starchy foods like to break down in a serious way, and the coconut milk (unless you use the light version).

What you might do is pull out the portion you plan to freeze halfway through the cooking process so the rice is half-cooked. Then, as you reheat it at a later time, you should get less mushiness. Give it a little stir as you reheat to reincorporate any separated coconut milk. Don’t quote me on that, though.

However, if you wait until the rice is fully cooked, I know the flavor would be fine after the reheat. It just might be a little mushier than normal.

Michelle – I’ll definitely be trying this!  And I would actually say that there are a couple of really excellent Indian restaurants in the area, though of the two I tend to recommend, I don’t know how close they are to where you actually live.  One is Shamiana’s up near Northwest.  It’s a bit of a hybrid, with some Pakistani and Tibetan influences on their dishes, but incredibly tasty nonetheless (Malay Fire Chickpeas is one of my favorites).  For more traditional, relatively authentic Indian I would recommend  Pabla Veggie Cuisine in Issaquah.  We drove by it for years before trying it out because it doesn’t look like a whole lot from the street, but they have amazing dals, pakoras, and their spinach naan is quite good.  Indi Bite at Crossroads Mall is great as well.  Sorry… I really love Indian food and I can go on a bit about it – obviously!

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