Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Indian Spiced Red Lentils and Brown Rice

First I want to thank everyone that commented or read my earlier post. Your words really touched me and I am so happy that some of you commented for the first time. I always wanted to believe that there were many more people out there that wanted to eat healthy food. Thank you for letting me know that I was correct.

As you may have guessed, all your wonderful comments started my day off on a high note. Then I spent a while talking about nutrition with my friend Sheila. It is always my favorite subject and I love her questions. She really makes me think through my position on things and helps me to focus and clarify the things that I now do without thinking. She has given me a great idea for a post that I need to start working on tonight before I forget her great question. Sheila thanks for keeping me honest!

While Sheila and I were on the phone the call waiting was beeping through and I was ignoring it because I was on the corded phone. I am using that more and more to avoid cordless phones of all types when possible. After the third beep in 10 minutes I knew I needed to find out what was going in. It was my parents. They had just discovered that the refrigerator had stopped working. Only child to the rescue! I immediately helped them to get everything into coolers and on ice. Dan came home and off we went to buy a refrigerator and bring it back and install it.

A side note for those of you in the market for appliances. Check out the Sears Appliance Outlets. We have picked up a few items there and have always been thrilled with the price. Today they had a couple gorgeous Jenn-Air Ranges I was coveting, along with a Subzero frig and Fischer Paykel dishwasher. They also had quite a few treadmills, elipticals and nice outdoor grills. The prices are great, and they will deliver.

After our unplanned appliance adventure my day was all thrown off. We didn’t finish with the process until after 6pm. At that time all I wanted was a mug of green tea and to put my feet up. At 7pm I realized I had done nothing to get dinner going. I hate it when that happens.

This is dish I used to make when we sailed. It can be made entirely from things in the pantry, although fresh items are great to have. When your kitchen is being remodeled you can make the dish in your rice cooker, I know this because I have done that too. If you are a college student this is great easy dish to have in your back pocket. Without further delay, here is what I made tonight for dinner:

Indian Spiced Red Lentils and Brown Rice
Serves 6 - very generously


1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 cups brown basmati rice
14 ounce can of tomatoes, liquid drained into a measuring cup
Enough water (with tomato liquid) to make 5 cups
¼ cup dried minced onions, or 1 onion, finely minced
½ teaspoon garlic powder, or 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cardamom powder, or 4 green cardamom pods
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon crushed red peppers
Salt and pepper as desired
1 lime, zested and juiced – optional but strongly recommended

Optional ingredients not included in nutrition information below:

A few cherry tomatoes, halved, for garnish
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
Dehydrated leeks, for garnish
A few cashews, for garnish
Baby spinach for the bed, or any green


Combine everything but the cilantro and lime and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and cook as you would brown rice. The exact time will depend on the type of pot you use. I tend to use enameled cast iron and the rice cooks in 35 minutes in that pan.

When it is time to serve remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves and fluff with a fork. Add the cilantro and lime zest and juice. You can use it as a base for seitan, or put in on top of greens. I have also added seitan sausage to this or baked tofu. There are many options. Tonight I served this on a bed of julienned baby spinach and topped it with cherry tomato halves, dehydrated leeks and a few cashews.

Nutritional Information (for beans and rice only):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 362.68
Calories From Fat (6%) - 23.5

Total Fat - 2.83g
Saturated Fat - 0.53g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 108.51mg
Potassium - 477.79mg
Total Carbohydrates - 72.39g
Fiber - 7.9g
Sugar - 2.45g
Protein - 13.73g


This is an easy and flavorful dish but it not so flavorful that children won’t enjoy it. If you like a lot of flavor you can safely double the spices and tomatoes. In fact if you know you like Indian food I would suggest you start with double the spices. I have served the recipe, as written, to people that claim to not like Indian food, and they have liked it. Sometimes I double and sometimes I don’t, it all depends on my mood. Nothing like consistency right?

This dish came about because I needed things I could make on a sailboat when fresh produce was limited. If any of you sail you know the galley is small and confined and food storage is even tougher. I have many of these recipes from our years of sailing. It didn’t occur to me until today those recipes for be great for college students or anyone that doesn’t have a kitchen or hasn't been to the grocery store (this would have been wonderful during the blizzard if I had thought of it, LOL). Please let me know if these sorts of recipes interest any of you. I can put them into the rotation occasionally.

Unrelated note:

Do you feel like you know too much about my day? Was it TMI? I never really know where to draw the line.

I am going to clean up the kitchen and relax for a little while. I hope you all had a great day. I will chat with you tomorrow. Thank you again for all you wonderful comments earlier. They mean more to me than you know. :-)


  1. hey Alicia, i have been out all day and am just now getting to your blog, im so upset that i wasnt one of your first followers to congratulate you:( so ill be the first to drool over this recipe instead:)

  2. Michelle,

    You are too cute! Sorry you missed the earlier post until now. I knew you would stop by at some point.

    You always make me smile and thanks,

  3. First of all, congratulations on reaching the one-year blogging milestone, Alicia! I very much appreciate your dedication to sharing health and nutrition links/information, tips, and fabulous recipes. You are truly inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing. Keep up the wonderful work! :)

    Speaking of fabulous recipes, this certainly looks like another one! I love lentils and rice--a hearty and versatile combination--especially with Indian spices. When I was still in college, I would make this type of dish all the time, because it's not only very affordable and easy to make, but really tasty.

  4. This sounds so wonderfully spiced and I'm sure greatly satisfying! You really do get hungry looking at the photo.

  5. Tiffany,

    Thank you so much! It is nice to know that so many people appreciate my posts. I have been blown away by the comments today. I also am happy to hear you like my health links. Those are some of my favorites and I always wondered how many peole found them interesting.

    Good point about this being easy for beginners. I tend to forget about things like that since I have been cooking so long that it all seems easy now (not that it always did).

    thanks again,

  6. Rose,

    This is a recipe that I have been kicking around my place for nearly 15 years. I suppose since it has lasted that long that says something. It reheats really well too.

    talk to you later,

  7. Ali, this looks delicious, I like the cinnamon stick on the top! I can see how this would be easy to make on a boat!!!!
    I also like that it can be made in a rice cooker!!!!

  8. Brandi,

    Thanks! I found out about the rice cooker when we were in the middle of a little remodel. I was amazed by how many things you can make in a rice cooker when you have to. I once heard Mario Batali say "there are no bad kitchens only bad cooks." He is right if you know how to cook, you can do it anywhere. Not that you really want to. ;-)


  9. mmm, looks tasty....

    BTW I found this Indian recipe book "Indian Cookery And Confectionery | by I. R. Dey" contains many good recipes...

    Check it out


  10. Alicia, I'd be interested in your rice cooker discoveries. I have had one for only about six months, and I don't know why I didn't do it decades ago! But I'm still a bit tentative about experimenting with it.

    This recipe looks like exactly the kind of thing my family loves. It reminds me of the "kusherie" recipe in *The More-With-Less Cookbook.*

  11. I swear, it's only about 6 am here, but just looking at these photos made me start to salivate! (How Pavlovian of me!) :-) Just so happens I'm going grocery shopping today, and we're having cool, rainy, windy weather for the next couple of days... this meal would be perfecto! (BW would disagree, saying we're missing the most important ingredient... the sailboat!) ;-)

  12. LakDant,

    Thanks. I will check out the link you attached.


    I do use the rice cooker more in the summer since you can drop things and go outside. Expect to see more recipes using it soon.

    Kushari is a good idea. I assume we are talking about the same dish with rice, beans, pasta, and topped with an acidic tomato daqqa. It is an Eqyptian dish that my friend Walid introduced me to. I need to make a healthy version of it. Thanks for putting that bug in my ear.


  13. La,

    I think BW is on to something! ;-) Thanks for the laugh this morning.

    Since I know you like spice start with double. If you have a rice cooker and have time use that. The dish can cook while you take the pups for a hike.

    talk to you later,

  14. LOL - I sent BW this article this morning, with the subject line, "This sounds like something La would do!" Well, I was certain that once on a sailboat, I would prove to be the world's most lubberly land-lubber, but this guy has me beat. At least I know not to go sailing with a road map! Duh!

    Thanks for the tip about doubling all the spices! :-)

    My rice cooker isn't a standard one, and and I've never cooked more 1 cup of rice (dry) at a time in it, but unless you think otherwise, I see no reason why it wouldn't work! A meal that cooks itself without mishap while the pups and I are hiking is okey-dokey with me! :-)

  15. That dish sounds so good and hearty. I bet it's even better as leftovers (something I rarely say). And I certainly don't think that was TMI at all. It's kind of nice to know that your day looks like some of ours - unplanned "stuff" and being thrown off course, but still managing a fabulous meal!

  16. You know, on second thought, I think my rice cooker will be too small for this recipe. But no worries, I have a big enamel pot like you use, I'll put it to work! Can hardly wait to make this! :-)

  17. La,

    Sailing with a road map, LOL. Hard to imagine that is true. He probably shouldn't have left his brain at home before he went sailing. LOL. You would make a great sailor. The pups on the other hand are questionable deck hands at best.

    I forgot you didn't have an electric rice cooker. Sorry.


  18. Heather,

    This is a good one and you are right it is hearty and tastes great as leftovers. And could become a component of veggie burgers if you like. ;-)

    My days are frequently a mess like yesterday. It seems like there is always something that happens and blows me off course. When I have a day that goes as planned I am always waiting for something to go wrong.


  19. Definitely never TMI! Your blog and what you are naturally inclined to share in it is a reflection of your personality and you should not second guess yourself. Similar, yet totally different, this reminds me of a struggle I have been going through with my own blog. I realized recently that a lot of my posts start with an apology for the length of time between that post and the previous. I have been hard on myself for my lack of posting, and trying so hard to make more time for it, but then I realized if I am a once a week blogger then that is what I am and why worry about it. So anyway, my promise to myself is to go with what feels natural, and I think you should do the same :)

    I love this one pot dish, by the way!! I remember seeing an Indian spiced rice dish on here way back when, and that was when I went out and found black cardamom pods, and I still haven't tried that one (or black cardamom pods for that matter!). I need to go back and look for that recipe. I haven't yet been organized enough when I'm cooking Indian to spice up the rice as well, but I love the idea. All that to say, this might be a better place for me to start, since this is the main course and not just a rice side dish.

  20. Sarah,

    Thanks for your opinion, I really appreciate it! I agree with you that we should do what feels right. Such a simple idea, but so logical. If you only have time to post once a week than that is what is right for you and you should go with it. Thanks for bringing things into perspective for me. :-)

    This is such an easy and comforting dish. The servings are quite big if you are just making it for you I would suggest making half. I also think you would like the seasonings doubled.

    I hope you get a chance to post some of the Indian dishes you learned soon. I will be very happy to see them.

    talk to you soon,

  21. Perfect student recipe! Although perhaps I'm atypical of a student living in student accomodation with my extensive pantry:) Haha. I have all the ingredients (- cardamom) so this is going to be dinner tonight...maybe with a drizzle of tofu-tahini sauce just because I luuuurve that stuff.

  22. Emma,

    Something tells me you have a much more well stocked pantry than most students. ;-) If you like big flavors, which I suspect you do, you should increase the spice in the recipe. I think the lime adds a lot to this dish, but lemon would also be good.

    The tofu tahini sauce would be very good on this. Great idea! Sounds like you use it like I do, a little bit on also everything. I am happy you like that as much as we do.


  23. I live between two addresses. One does not have my computer. I missed your anniversary post.:(

    I am so pleased to have found your blog. Keep up all the hard work.

    Healthy is what I am after!

    I agree!! Health Professionals owe it to their clients to speak the truth in nutrition!!

    I can't tell you how many times I listened to the American Heart Association lecture on diet. It really makes me angry.

    Thanks for your continued study in nutrition. I too love to learn and know everything about taking care of my health. Then, if I choose to eat something that is not say "healthy" at least I am doing it knowing, it is a poor choice.

  24. Naina,

    I agree with you 100%. All I want is to know what I should be doing so if I go off the wagon it is intentional.

    Thanks for your kinds words,

  25. Yum, I love Indian food, and this looks great! I like that it can be made directly from the pantry b/c I only shop once a week. So, by the end of the week, I'm usually down to some onions and lettuce and cabbage! As far as TMI, I like taking a peek into your life - you and I have such different lives, it's fun to see what somebody else does. :) Your story is very typical of the sandwich generation - adult children taking care of their parents and their own children (in your case cats :) ). Great job!

  26. Blessed Mama,

    Thanks for letting me know these sorts of recipes would be useful for you. I have quite a few of them from all the years of sailing. It isn't that easy to pull over and get provisions, nor do you really want to either.

    I agree our lives are very different. My feline "children" nap most of the day so home schooling is not required. ;-) Thanks for letting me know you like the peek into my crazy life. It always seems to be something here. LOL.

    talk to you later,

  27. Alicia, I should know better than to read your blog when I am hungry!
    That looks fabulous. And I enjoy reading about your life too.

  28. Mmm mmm mmm, Ali, those lentils look delish! And I lovvveeeee Indian food, so it's nice to know that I can double the spices without any trouble!

    And nope, it's never ever TMI. What I love about our community of bloggers is not just the food and recipes, it's the ability to get to know like-minded people, and to have new friends all over the country and the world!


  29. Janet,

    What a nice thing to say. Thank you very much. :-)

    Also thanks for weighing in the life info. I am never sure how much is interesting.


  30. LJ,

    Double away. Same goes for the tomatoes if you like. Can you ever have too much flavor? I don't think so.

    Thanks for giving me your opinion on "life info". Most of the time I convince myself it is boring stuff that no is interested in but me. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

    talk to you later,

  31. I would love to see more recipes like this. I'm a full time student and although I have a full kitchen, this recipe is budget friendly compared to some of your others. Not that I don't love them too but there is an attraction to being able to put together a big pot of rice and lentils and call it dinner for a few days

  32. Shannon,

    I am glad you like the idea of this recipe. I am happy to try to include more budget friendly meals. Can you give me a couple of examples of items I use that aren't budget friendly? Is it more the exotic spices, or mushrooms. Knowing some specifics would help me to know which ingredients to offer substitutions for in the future.

    thanks for your input,

  33. Ali - we made this last Sunday and loved it! It came together very easily... I can see why it's a good galley meal! :-) Doubling the spices worked perfectly for us. I made no changes and we loved it just as it's written. The lime zest and juice definitely gives it a "sailboaty flavor," in BW's words. LOL That taste of balmy climes not only gives this dish a unique flavor, it also makes it taste more summery than our other more lentil/rice/curry type recipes that we enjoy in the autumn and winter months, so it'll be nice to have this to make after we've put those other recipes away for the summer season.

    To quote Bob Cratchet, "Another triumph, my dear, another triumph!" ;-)

  34. La,

    I am so glad both you and BW enjoyed this. :-) Thanks so much for the comment on how it turned out for you. Please let BW know I love his description of "sailboaty".

    BTW, you did a better job describing the flavor than I did. I agree with you completely on the limes. They do make the flavor sparkle, IMO. ;-)

    talk to you later,


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