Turmeric rice and minty lentils

Can you believe there was a time when I said I didn't like Indian food? I know I know. Talk about a culinary blind spot. I think it's because my first introduction was in a grungy over spiced excuse for a restaurant in NY and I incorrectly thought Indian food would leave me with days-long intestinal woes. Well, I was SO wrong. The spices are just incredible, wonderfully healing and delicious. And while I can't say that the following dishes are truly authentic, I can say that they are a perfect Sunday supper. Easy and satisfying, they will fill your kitchen with smells that will make you run to the table with spoon ready to dig in. 

coriander seeds

Turmeric rice + minty lentils
adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian cooking
serves 4-6

I've used white basmati rice here, but the recipe can easily be adapted for brown rice (this is usually the route I go). Use double the amount of water to rice (2:1 ratio) and let cook uncovered over medium heat until the water is level with the rice, cover and turn to low and cook another 45 minutes. 

Turmeric rice: 
2 cups basmati rice
3 TBS ghee
3 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
4 cardamom pods
1 small stick cinnamon
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
chives or green onion as garnish

Rinse the rice in several changes of water and leave to soak for 1 hour. Strain. In a medium saucepan, heat ghee over medium-high heat. When hot, add cloves, bay leaf, cardamom pods, and cinnamon. Stir until cardamom pops. Add garlic and give it a stir. Just as garlic starts to brown, add rice, turmeric and salt. Stir everything to coat the rice well with turmeric. Cover with 2 3/4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and bring down to a simmer. Cook 25 minutes. Turn off heat and let rest 10 minutes before uncovering. Fluff and garnish with green onions. 

Minty Lentils:
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (black or yellow)
pinch of asafetida (optional)
1-3 dried hot chiles (I used Mexican chiles de arbol-the small, long red ones)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 14 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand to a chunky texture
1 cup green lentils, rinsed
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground coriander, toasted and freshly ground if possible
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped

In a heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat. When oil is hot, add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. The mustard seeds will begin to pop; at this point, add in asafetida, if using, and red chiles. Stir. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion begins to brown. Add tomato, lentils, 3.5 cups of water, salt, ground coriander, cilantro and mint. Stir to mix and bring to a boil. Cover and bring down to a gentle simmer. Cook about 20-30 minutes until lentils are tender. Adjust seasoning. Serve alongside turmeric rice.