Saturday, November 21, 2009

Loving Lentils

The lentil rice was described as 'Seasoned rice, whole lentils, macaroni.'
Macaroni? But this wasn't the kids' menu.
So I asked the owner of the cafe about it and was told that macaroni was a common addition to lentil rice in his native Egypt.
He went on to say that it adds an interesting texture to the rice.
And so it did!
I rarely muster courage to ask for the recipe. The one time I do, all I get is the most vague response "Oh nothing fancy, lots of sauteed onions, roasted cumin, salt, lentils, rice, and macaroni."

Back home I took a shot at making said rice.
So did the rice taste the way it did at the restaurant. Absolutely not!
But does it taste good? You betcha! Also, it is vegan and no, it is not a salad.

Masoor Rice with Pasta
1 cup masoor
1 cup rice, uncooked
½ cup elbow or any small macaroni
2 large onions, sliced
1 tbsp cumin (jeera), roasted
2 tbsp oil
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
salt, to taste
cilantro, for garnishing (optional)

Cook the macaroni the usual way; set aside.

Wash the masoor and add it to a pot of water (about 1 ½ cups).
Add a tsp of salt and mix well.
Cook till the masoor retains a bite. Add more water if necessary.
Drain and set aside.

Wash the rice and cook it the usual way in slightly salted water.
When almost done, drain the water and set aside the rice.

Heat oil and add the sliced onions.
Sauté over low to medium heat till brown. This takes a while but do not rush through it.
Add the red pepper flakes, cumin, and a pinch of salt. Stir well.

Assemble the rice
Grease the bottom of the serving dish with a bit of oil.
Spread half the rice, masoor, pasta, rest of the rice, and lastly the onions.
(Or you could do what I did: just mix it all together.)

The rice can be assembled ahead of time and warmed in the microwave just before serving.

The is my entry to My Legume Love Affair#17 hosted this month by Sra. This long running blog event was started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Complicating Things

Whenever I prepare something for the first time, I often don't have the cookbook (or the laptop if the recipe came from a blog) with me in the kitchen; unless I'm baking. Once I get the general idea, I skip/ modify the ingredients as needed. The modifications are usually to simplify things. This takes the notion of making it my own to a whole new level.

But that is not what happened yesterday when I set out to make a spread. This spread required just four ingredients not counting the capers which where optional. The major ingredients were figs and olives. When I actually started making the spread I realised that the recipe called for fresh figs (I had dried) and Klamata olives (I had green and black). I was forced to make things work just as they where.
A pinch of this and a smidgen of that later I had more than doubled the number of ingredients!
The ends certainly justified the means!

Fig-Olive Spread
The proportions are a mere guideline.

6 dried figs, remove stems
½ cup green olives
½ cup black olives
1 tbsp olive oil
a pinch each of dried oregano, rosemary, and red pepper flakes
2 tbsp capers
4 cloves garlic
¼ cup roasted almonds (optional, but recommended)
1 little lemon zest (optional)

Mix the oil with ½ cup water and bring it to a boil.
Add the oregano, rosemary, and the lemon zest (if using).
Add the figs and turn off the heat.

Let the fig-spice mixture sit for a couple of hours.

With the motor of the food processor running drop in the garlic.
Add the almonds (if using), olives and the fig-spice mixture along with the liquid.
Pulse the food processor till you have a coarse-ish mixture.
Mix in the capers.
Add salt if necessary; the olives are usually briny enough.

The bread in the above picture is Vaishali's whole wheat french bread. This fail-proof recipe is my current favourite.
Add to Technorati Favorites