It’s early afternoon and it’s a bit on the chilly side. Mostly it’s cold in the morning which means you need to put on jumper for your morning cup of tea. But by the time it gets to midday, the sun starts shining into the back of the house, and it’s back to t-shirt and jeans although the jeans are purely because it’s the only time of year you get to wear them without breaking into a sweat. The weather this time of year is idyllic. Too cool to swim but perfect for sitting on the beach and enjoying a picnic.
It’s also the best weather for a hearty curry. It really doesn’t matter what type you choose: beef, chicken, lamb or even vegetable. They all hit the spot on a cool, wintery evening. Although meat curries are one of my most favourite things to eat, it always feels a little bit wrong just to eat meat. Sure it’s served with rice, and if you can be bothered, cucumber raita and even papadums. What’s missing though are the vegetables. There was a time there when if I made a curry I also made dahl, but that was really because there was so many people to feed and dahl was an incredibly easy option when you needed more food.
But I’ve made a great discovery. Instead of just having rice with your curry, make a vegetable pilau. It’s like using the absorption method to cook the rice, but with a few vegetables thrown in before you put on the lid. You could also make this as a stand alone dish, but if you do, make sure you make the tomato and onion raita to go with it. I’d also add a little extra chilli just to spice it up a bit. There is no liquid so the raita is an essential. Actually make the raita whether you’re making it with or without a curry.
One other thing, if you need to make more than a cup of rice, just remember that you need twice as much water as rice: 1 cup rice/2 cups water, so you can adjust your quantities accordingly. I really liked this, Claudia not so much, but hey, you don’t have to like everything. Enjoy!
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 x 400 gram tin brown lentils
- 1 red onion, halved and finely sliced lengthways
- 1 tomato, finely chopped
- 2 green chillies, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 small carrot, chopped into small pieces
- 1 small zucchini, chopped into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon chilli powder
- 3 whole cloves
- 8 whole peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Soak basmati rice before starting.
- In a large, heavy based pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, black peppercorns, cumin seeds and fry until starts to splatter. Add onion and a pinch of salt and fry until browned, stirring while it cooks to make sure it doesn't burn.
- Add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute.
- Add the drained lentils, carrots, zucchini, turmeric, chilli powder and green chillies. Stir to combine.
- Drain the rice, and add the rice and salt to the pot and mix well.
- Add 2 cups of water and the chopped tomato and simmer until the water on top dries up to the level of the rice (10-12 minutes).
- Cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to low and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
- Serve with a tomato and onion raita made with a couple of finely chopped tomatoes, finely chopped red onion, chopped green chilli, a pinch of salt and some yoghurt.