Red Lentils With Rice Indian Style


7 oz (200 g) red lentils
3 thin pieces fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp coriander seeds
3 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
generous pinch cayenne pepper or chilli powder

for the rice:

10 oz (300 g) Basmati rice
1 tbsp butter

for the saffron butter:

generous pinch saffron threads
4 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)

serve with:



1. Cook the rice by the absorption method: measure out just under 14 fl oz (390 ml) cold water. Rinse the rice in a sieve under running cold water until the water runs out clear.

2. Drain, place in a bowl, add sufficient cold water to cover and leave to soak for 20 minutes, then drain again. Spread the rice out in the bottom of a heavy-bottomed saucepan or flameproof casserole dish, add the measured quantity of cold water, 1/2 tsp salt and the butter.

3. Heat until the water starts to boil, cover tightly and cook gently over a very low heat for up to 20 minutes. While the rice is soaking then cooking, prepare the lentils. Rinse them well under running cold water; drain and place in a saucepan or flameproof casserole dish with 1 1/4 pints (700 ml) cold water and bring to the boil, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface.

4. Add the slices of fresh ginger and stir in the turmeric. Reduce the heat to low, cover, leaving a chink through which the steam can escape and simmer gently for 20 minutes until the lentils are tender; stir occasionally to prevent them catching and burning on the bottom of the saucepan or casserole dish.

5. Remove and discard the pieces of ginger, add salt to taste, stir and remove from the heat. Pound the coriander seeds with a pestle and mortar (or grind in the food processor) and sift to get rid of the tough seed cases.

6. Heat 3 tbsp ghee in a small saucepan and fry the cumin seeds for a few seconds. Add the chopped coriander leaves and the cayenne pepper or chilli powder, stir well and then mix with the lentils. Add a little more salt if necessary, spoon into a heated serving dish and sprinkle with the chopped coriander garnish.

7. Make the saffron butter: place the saffron threads in a small bowl, add 1 tbsp boiling water and stir well, crushing the threads with the back of a wooden spoon.

8. Heat 4 tbsp ghee in a small saucepan, stir in the saffron and water, and mix briefly. Transfer the rice to a heated serving dish and pour the saffron butter all over it. Serve at once, with the chapatis.

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