Lentil and Rice Biryani


Our neighbours have blessed us a couple of times recently with some wonderful Bengali cooking (see – even in London there are still good neighbours!) The rice they have sent us via their young daughter was out of this world tasty, non-oily and just amazing. As you know by now I am starting to love Indian cooking and this dish is a great way to brighten up mid-week meals. Lentils are a rich source of protein and keep you full for longer.
Although it looks like a lot of ingredients  – the process is simple, so don’t let that put you off 🙂

1/2 x cup of basmati rice
1/2 x cup of brown or yellow lentils (rinsed)
1 3/4 x cup of water 
1-2 x bay leaves
2 x cloves
2 x cardamon pods
1/2 x tsp red pepper flakes
1 x tsp salt

Biryani mix
2 x tsp rapeseed oil
1 1/2 x cups of thinly sliced onion
thumb size piece of ginger  – grated or thinly chopped
3- 4 x cloves garlic  – grated
1 x stick cinnamon
2 x cloves
5-6 x black peppercorns
A small handful of raw cashews (optional)
2 x tbsp raisins
1 x tsp garam masala
1/2 x tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 x tsp cayenne pepper
1 x tsp turmeric
1/2 x cup of coconut milk
1 x tsp salt

The first step is to rinse and then soak the rice in hot water for 15 minutes. Drain the rice and then put it into a large saucepan along with the rinsed and drained lentils. Add the water, spices and salt and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to medium and put the lid on. Keep an eye and cook for about 20 minutes and check to see if the lentils are tender and all the water has been absorbed. Place a clean tea towel over the saucepan, replace the lid tightly and set aside.
Now in a frying pan, bring the oil to a medium heat, add in the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes until beginning to soften. Now add in the ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick, cloves and peppercorns and stir  – making sure you combine all the flavours. Keep stirring until everything is softened and combined.
Add in the cashews (if using), raisins, turmeric, garam masala, red pepper flakes and cayenne. Stir and allow the flavours to marry. Add the coconut milk and salt, stir through and then add a lid and leave to simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the rice and lentil mixture to the pan of spices and coconut milk and gently stir everything together. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as required.
Serve on a platter and you can garnish with lemon slices and fresh mint leaves.



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