Lentils are one of the staples in Indian cooking. Dal, as it is known in India, is the definitely the pulse of choice.
The most traditional way of eating lentils are in a stew format to eat over rice, very much like we eat rice and beans in Latin countries. The difference when we cook lentils, is that you can still see the lentils in the dish.
Indians tend to cook their lentils until they become mush, where the lentils just disappear and just look like a very soft puree. I will share with you a recipe given to me by a friend in which you cook yellow/orange lentils until they become this creamy consistency. They’re delicious…
A new way I discovered having lentils is in Moong Dal. The best way I can describe this is a lentil krispy… imagine a rice krispy, but with lentils. Get it now??
Moong Dal is crispy and salty… they pop in your mouth and they’re a real treat to eat. We discovered them in a store at an airport and enjoyed them on the road as a snack often. We even got to bring some home to enjoy. But remember they’re still lentils, filled with protein, so they can be heavy on your stomach if you eat too much at a time. So be careful not to overdo them… ok??
And my favorite way to eat lentils… papadams!!!! These are crispy wafers, like a tortilla meets a chip, made usually from lentils or chickpea flour. They’re served as a snack or as an accompaniment to some main dish. I got them served to complement Yogurt Rice, a favorite in South India. More about the Yogurt Rice in an upcoming post…
These papadams are addictive… I would eat mine, my mom’s and my friend’s papadams, if they were not interested in them. They are like the best Indian chip you will ever find. This is a very delicious way to get your protein on.
What is YOUR favorite way to eat a lentil?? I want to know…
Once in a while I come up with these clean-your –fridge recipes, especially when I am about to go on a trip. I have an obsession to leave the fridge as clean as possible from all the fresh ingredients that most likely will spoil by the time I return. This is how most of my stuffed peppers and stuffed mushrooms recipes come about…
So lately, I’ve been trying to eat less cheese… I go in phases trying to do this because I know that I can abuse cheese if I am not careful. And cooking rice for me is a way to come up with dishes that do not rely on cheese as a garnish or flavoring agent. Although this dish can very well be enhanced by some cheese too… ;)
The “millionaire” term was coined by Carmen at the Yoga Center because in her version, she needs to buy lots of ingredients to make a very luscious rice. But in my case, I work with what I have in my fridge and/or pantry of what’s left-over from other recipes.
This is more a method than a recipe per sé… I will show you what I have added to my most recent version of “millionaire rice” but feel free to create your very own combination the next time you feel the need to clean-out-your-fridge, for a trip or just before a big trip to the market…
2 cups of cooked brown rice
Broccoli, cut into small pieces
Carrots, chopped finely
Red or Yellow Bell Peppers, diced
Almonds , sliced almonds work best
Salt and Pepper to taste
I do not include amounts of ingredients, because this is about what you have available in your fridge…
- In a large skillet over medium heat, drizzle a small amount of olive oil and the diced onions, peppers and carrots. Cook them for a few minutes until they begin to soften.
- Add the mushrooms and broccoli pieces … Mix well so the flavors mix. Season with salt and pepper, or the garlic salt if you prefer. If you have a lid, cover the skillet and let the mushrooms and broccoli cook for a few minutes.
- Add the cooked rice to the skillet. Mix well and cover again. The steam in the skillet will soften the rice again if it’s hardened from being in the fridge. Allow cooking for a couple of minutes and add the almonds last. Tturn the stove off and leave it there for the residual heat to finish heating the rice, making it fluffy again.
This rice is a great side dish or even makes a great filling for stuffed peppers or stuffed tomatoes.
My friends, Ana Yolanda and Angie, have a new found appreciation for cooking. Maybe a little bit inspired by me, who knows.
Lately they’ve invited me a few times to taste a few of the new learnings they’ve had in their weekly cooking class. However, something I have noticed every time they invite me over to taste these recipes is the amounts of butter and calories these recipes have.
This Leek Rice was something they created for me one night… it was the ONLY THING I could eat that night, but I get it. They’re not vegetarians and the menus they learn aren’t either. When I asked how the rice was made, I’ll be honest I can’t fully remember the amount of rice in the recipe, but I do remember that they “needed” to cook the leeks in 2 sticks of butter. WHAT???? 2 sticks of butter!!!!!!
I told them I could certainly be able to replicate this recipe and make it in a much healthier manner – without sacrificing flavor or texture in any way.
You be the judge…
3 cups of cooked brown rice, I use Texmati
2 medium leeks, washed and sliced finely, both the white and light green parts
1 tbs olive oil
2 ½ tbs of butter
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
½ cup toasted walnuts
- I cooked the rice in a rice cooker… I only seasoned lightly with a little bit of olive oil and salt. When the rice finished, I started on the rest of the dish.
- In a large skillet with high sides over medium heat, add the oil and butter. When the butter is melted, add the leeks and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, moving them occasionally, until they’re soft. .
- Add the rice to the pot where you’re cooking the leeks. Toss well for the rice to be well coated with the leeks and butter. Add the walnuts and mix one more time really well.
That’s it… In my opinion, the rice still has that silky unctuous sensation in the mouth without having to melt 2 full sticks of butter. About ¼ of a stick will do, IMHO.
My mom never had the original version and she loved this one. What’s your verdict???
Today is 3 Kings Day… when we celebrate the arrival of the 3 Wise Men to visit Baby Jesus at the manger. It’s a great holiday in Puerto Rico. Back in the days of my grandma, kids only received presents on 3 Kings Day, never on December 25. That’s a new thing of the last 50 years…
Because of my yoga retreats, which start on Dec 25 until Jan 1, our plans usually are to spend 3 Kings Day as a family at my aunt’s farm in the country. We had agreed she would make for us the traditional menu she likes to prepare for us:
Rice and Pigeon Peas or Rice with Corn
Vegetarian Pasteles – brought by my mom and me
and yes… that’s a pastel hiding underneath all that ketchup…
Boiled Green Bananas
And my Tití Carmín’s famous Potato Salad
My former grad school roommate, Michelle, was always baffled by my wanting to have Potato Salad on our holiday menus. When for her, potato salad is a summer salad only. Well, my dear friend Michelle, Puerto Rico has consistent 70F weather during Xmas time, which is pretty warm for most US standards.
This year, my aunt and her husband are “under the weather” with one of the worst flu ever. So we had to cancel our 3 Kings Day celebration. Later on, I will be trying to attempt her Potato Salad recipe and try to share it with you all. OK?
Happy Triking Day!!!!
This recipe is from Cielito Rosado, with whom I had the pleasure to work with when I managed the advertising of a very popular dish washing liquid. She’s one of the few well-known cooks in Puerto Rico… her recipes are simple and easy to follow.
Arroz con Dulce, loosely translated to Sweetened Rice, is a typical Xmas dessert. You really do not see it anywhere before Thanksgiving or after the Fiestas de San Sebastián. The key is to not have it be too sweet or too bland… and brown sugar is key.
ARROZ CON DULCE
1 ½ cups of rice, soaked in water
For the cooking liquid:
1 ½ cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
A piece of fresh ginger
3 cans of coconut milk
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
2 tbs raisins
2 tbs butter
Ground cinnamon to garnish
- Add the cloves, cinnamon sticks and ginger to the water in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat for about 5-8 minutes. Then, strain and discard the spices. Return the tea to the same saucepan.
- Drain the rice that has been soaking in water; add it to the strained tea and coconut milk. Cook over medium heat until the liquids boil. Cover and lower the heat until the liquids reduce and the rice is cooked.
- Add the brown sugar, shredded coconut, raisins, butter and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
- Pour the cooked rice into a serving platter and garnish with sprinkled ground cinnamon.