As someone who rarely eats meat and almost never makes it to the fishmonger, I’m always on the lookout for vegetarian main dishes that don’t just feel large side dishes. Mujadarra is one of my favorites: basmati rice, Puy lentils, and lots of spiced yogurt for serving and scooping.
This here is another rice+lentils creation, the idea for which came from a couple of Food52 recipes. The first is a pistachio dukkah, which I’ve had my eye on for a while; do you know all about dukkah already? It’s pretty new to me, and altogether delightful: a combination of nuts, seeds, and spices that’s technically a condiment but very easily slips into savory granola territory. The Food52 folks warned me that I might shovel this stuff straight into my mouth, and that’s pretty much what happened. Fortunately, I made a double batch.
The other recipe was for lentils and rice with tamarind sauce, which rather ingeniously called for tempering nigella seeds before mixing them with tamarind paste. Nigella seeds are a favorite discovery from my time living in Jerusalem: their flavor is subtle, a bit like caraway but less severe and more mysterious. I don’t use them nearly enough.
Combined, these two recipes became a pretty magical vegetarian main: a pile of rice and lentils drizzled with tamarind sauce, sprinkled with crunchy dukkah, and served with a scoop of yogurt. It’d be great alongside curried tofu or salmon with Indian spices, but it’s substantial and interesting enough to stand on its own.
In other news, our kitchen is finally finished; I can’t wait to share pictures now that it’s ready for its glamour shot. Stay tuned.
And looking through photos for this post, I realized that I managed to make a rather astonishing amount of food while the kitchen project was underway. I owe you homemade chilaquiles (with homemade tortilla chips that are easy, really!), a walnut cake, and the best chocolate tart I’ve ever made, scouts’ honor. Let’s get to it.
Lentils and Rice with Dukkah and Tamarind Sauce
Adapted from a couple recipes on Food52
Serves 4 as a main, 6 as a side
For the rice and lentils:
1 1/2 cups (scant 10 oz.) brown rice
1 cup (7 oz.) green lentils
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or substitute vegetable oil or ghee)
1 tablespoon nigella seeds
1/4 cup tamarind puree
3Â teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the dukkah:
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts
1/4 cup sesame seeds
3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Chopped cilantro, fennel fronds, minced chives, or another green herb
Make rice and lentils: Fill a large pot with water, add a big pinch of salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add rice, and cook for 35-40 minutes, until rice is cooked through but retains its bite. 10 minutes into the cooking time, add lentils; the two should be done at about the same time. Drain and set aside.
Make the dukkah: Toast coriander and cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Allow spices to cool completely before transferring to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grinding. Transfer ground spices to a mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, roast nuts in the same small skillet until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and finely chop. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add sesame seeds to the skillet and toast until golden brown, about 2 minutes, then transfer to mixing bowl. Finally, toast coconut in the skillet, stirring constantly until golden, about 2 minutes. Add to mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper, and adjust spices/s&p as needed.
Make sauce: In the same skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add nigella seeds and cook for about 1 minute; they might sputter a bit, so be careful. Remove from heat. Add tamarind puree and brown sugar (again, might sputter), stirring to combine. Add salt and combine. Taste and adjust salt/sugar as needed.
To serve: Scoop a portion of rice and lentils onto a plate. Drizzle with a spoonful of tamarind sauce, sprinkle with dukkah, and top with a dollop of yogurt and a pinch of herbs.