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Monday, September 20, 2010

Lentils & Saffron Rice with Almonds

This is a middle eastern dish that is highly nutritious and cheap. It's official name would be Dal Bhat, but Lentils & Saffron Rice with Almonds just sounds better, eh?

Lentils are high in protein on their own; but to make this meal into a complete protein, all you've got to do is add some rice. Vegetable sources of protein, such as lentils, offer healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals and are very low in fat.

Dal "lentils"
1 1/2 c lentils (any color will do; rinse well in cold water & sort)
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Bring broth to a boil, stir in lentils and reduce heat to light simmer.
Cover and cook for 30+ minutes, do not stir while cooking.

Once they are easily "mushed" between fingers, they are done.
Add 6 tablespoons of butter, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 tsp tumeric, 1/2 tsp ground red chili pepper, salt to taste.
*Puree in blender to a smooth sauce.

*When you are blending hot food, it is important to be careful. Remove the middle circular piece of lid (usually this is clear plastic) from the blender lid to allow steam to escape and cover over the open hole with a towel while you blend. Always start slowly and increase your speed slowly to prevent any explosions.

This is not traditional, but I like to add potatoes and carrots to my dal.
Peel & dice potatoes in small bite sized pieces. Lightly boil, maybe 12-15 minutes until just barely softened. Do not overcook them as you will cook them a bit longer in the dal and you don't want mushy potatoes falling apart in your dal. Peel & dice carrots to same size cubes as potatoes, once dal is pureed, pour it back in your pan and add in the carrots and potatoes. Simmer gently to allow flavors to come together and to thicken a bit.

Bhat "saffron rice with almonds"
Naturally, you can serve your dal with any rice that you like.
But here is one of my favorite middle eastern style rice dishes.

Bring 2 cups water to a boil, stir in 1 cup short grain brown rice
Cover & simmer on low heat for 40 minutes.

In small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons rose water and 1/2 teaspoon crushed saffron threads. Let them sit while rice cooks.

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees and roast 1/2 c blanced almonds in a bit of olive oil. They are done when they turn golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.

Once your rice has cooked through, fluff and add the rosewater, saffron and roasted almonds.

Serve your lentils over your saffron rice with whole wheat naan on the side. Enjoy!

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