They say the US is the melting pot of all cultures – that we eat everyone’s food, combine everyone’s culture, and use everyone’s traditions. And while that might be true – I bet you can find any type of food somewhere in the US – I also think it’s mostly a lie for the Standard American Kitchen. At least in California, that is, for those of us whose families have been here a few generations. Here, the “ethnic” food that is cooked in most homes is Mexican food and Italian – and we don’t really even get that into it. Mostly it’s just burritos and pasta, with the occasional lasagne thrown in. And now, I’m definitely not complaining because those foods are downright tasty, but what I wouldn’t give for a little bit of Japanese food sometimes! Or Colombian, what do they eat there? Has any of us even thought about what the heck Norwegian food would be like? I have no idea!
So what I’m saying is that I’m going to try to “get out” more. Experience more cultures through their food, even if I Californianize it, if you will. Like this recipe. I wanted something with Indian roots. I know dals are a big thing in Indian food, but I didn’t know the first thing about making a dal. In fact, I wasn’t really even quite sure what a dal was. Technically, a dal is really just a lentil of some sort. It can also be used to describe a stew of sorts made with the lentils, so I think that pretty accurately describes what we’ve made here. We’re gonna roll with it.
I wanted this to be an easy glide into Indian food, so I stuck with spices that are generally easy to find. The only one that might be a bit tricky to find is the garam masala. It’s a combination of things like nutmeg, cloves, and allspice, and really rounds out this dish. I also use it all.the.time in my banana bread, which is an unexpected and delicious kick. I find it in the bulk section of the local health foods store (which technically is now a Whole Foods…). Along with the rice and lentils, this is stuffed with onions, potatoes, and eggplant. It is chock-full of flavor and SO FILLING.
This takes about an hour from start to finish, but most of that time it’s just simmering away on the stove. Not bad! It’s also naturally vegan and gluten free, which is always a plus. So, if you’re looking to try out some (faux) Indian food, this is an awesome, healthy place to start!
Curried Brown Rice & Lentils
An easy and satisfying recipe for those looking to try their first Indian dish. Full of flavor but not too heavy on the spice, this is a delicious way to get some healthy brown rice and lentils into your diet.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 50 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 6 servings
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3/4 cup tomato puree
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4-1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp roasted curry powder
- 1/4 tsp tumeric
- 3 small yellow potatoes, diced
- 2 japanese eggplants, diced
- 2 cups dry brown rice
- 1/2 cup whole green lentils
- 6-7 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- Warm the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and cook until translucent. Lower heat to medium and add the tomato puree and spices, then cook while stirring constantly for about 4 minutes, until thickened slightly.
- Stir in the diced potatoes and eggplants, the brown rice, and the lentils. Add 6 cups of the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 45 minutes, until the rice and lentils are soft.
- Give the pot a good stir and add some more water if needed. You want it to be just a tiny bit soupy. Add the frozen peas and cook another 5 minutes or so until they are fully warmed through. Finally stir in the garam masala, then serve immediately. Enjoy!