Indian-Spiced Rice & Red Lentil Salad
Ok, I apologise... the heading of this post is a little misleading, as this is not SUCH a hot and spicy one, although you could always make it that way! I just thought up the line and decided it sounded cool! And indeed, I did enjoy this rice dish very much served up lukewarm this evening and can imagine it being perfect served cold from the fridge in the Summer too! And ok, ok- you are right- it would obviously be fantastic served hot as well! ;-)
The thought of rice salad has always made me cringe- especially anything with ham and mayonnaise in it! Not for me!! So I decided to try out something of my own... a little spicy, a little colorful and a lot of fun! With some plain old ingredients and a few Indian spices, I whipped this together in just 30 minutes- and I am sure you can find a half hour to spare next time it comes round to you wanting to wow everyone at your next dinner party ;-) This is how I did it...
To make this, I started off by preparing a kind of rice pilaf, using 1 1/2 cups of rice, 1 cup of red lentils and 1 cup of frozen peas. I first sautéed the rice, with some finely chopped onion, along with some fennel and cumin seeds for 2-3 minutes in a little clarified butter, then added 1 teaspoon of turmeric and and enough boiling water to cover the rice by about 1". I then turned down the heat to a low simmer and let it boil for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I stirred it through and added salt and pepper and then sprinkled the red lentils and peas on top, added enough water again to just cover everything and let it simmer once more for a further 5 minutes. And then- turn off the heat and forget about it! In a further 5-10 minutes time, when the other ingredients will be ready- that rice will be perfect and fluffy and the lentils cooked just right! I promise!
In the meantime, in my dry frying pan, I quickly toasted some almond splinters until they were golden brown and then set them aside to add later. And then, again with just a tiny pat of clarified butter (you know me!), I stir-fried some finely chopped ginger, sliced red and yellow peppers and Spring onion which I cut into nice bite-sized chunks in the same hot pan. Whilst they were sizzling away, I finely chopped a good handful of cilantro and just a little mint... it's all about multitasking!
Now that the vegetables were ready, I added the rice to the frying pan and a good teaspoon of garam masala. I stirred it in well and made sure to get all of the ingredients equally spread throughout. I then added a handful of raisins, the toasted almonds and a sprinkle of tandoori spice- just to add a tangy extra "zing" to the flavor! And that was all the cooking that needed to be done! All I needed to do now was to add the cilantro, a squeeze of lemon, a tiny pinch of sugar and a little drizzle of sesame oil... all non-authentic... but then I am not Indian and this was my creation!
I let it sit and cool of for as long as I could bare (well- actually, obviously for as long as it took to take my pictures for you all!) and then enjoyed this rich plate of wonderful flavors lukewarm... which was just perfect! And I reckon that if you try it yourselves- you might well agree! I certainly hope so! Have fun trying!