These next several weeks are going to be busy as I’m taking (not teaching) two intensive summer classes. I’ll be relying on easy standbys like curries and rice. Maybe I’ll do a bit of sprouting for raw recipes. I’m sure there’ll be the usual summertime breakfast pies. How could I resist with all the fresh fruits? Right now I have rhubarb! I’m pretty intuitive with menu planning (in that I don’t really menu plan). I see what’s in season or what’s on sale that week and go with it.
Yesterday, I made rice and lentils. My Himalayan Rice is an adaptation of a recipe saved from the Los Angeles Times (February 4, 1998!). I’ve kept the piece of newspaper (along with a bunch of others) for years. It’ll be good to have a digital format for easier access. One of the goals of this blog was that it would function as a cookbook.
I used to make this recipe with an aromatic red rice, but any rice will do. Lately I’ve been enjoying organic basmati. Brown (or other whole grain) rice and white rice have distinct nutritional benefits and flavor profiles. Research what works best for you and what you most enjoy. To my tastes, white rice is the best complement to curries. I usually serve it with a lentil curry (recipe below). The white rice also makes a nice canvas for the contrasting colors of veggies and mustard seed.
If you love double starches and fried things, then this is the recipe. It includes a topping of crispy hash browns – lovely with the fresh crunchy cucumber and red onion. I love fried foods, but don’t usually eat them in restaurants because of the toxic oils. At home, I limit my frying to shallow pan frying with a few select oils – coconut, olive, ghee, or sometimes peanut or sesame oil (for pan searing fish). I usually get my fried food fixes by oven roasting.
I should mention that Udo Erasmus’ Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill was transformative for me at a time when I was struggling with an irregular heartbeat and painfully dry eyes and skin. When I changed the oils I was eating and began taking the Udo’s Oil Supplement, I started improving almost immediately. I eliminated all hydrogenated oils from my diet. Eventually, I also did away with soybean, corn, “vegetable”( whatever that’s made of), and canola oils. At home, I make my own salad dressings from olive or sesame oils. In restaurants, I just don’t eat dressing. I’m sure some of these nasty oils still end up in my diet by how often I eat out. Still, I do what I can to avoid them. I also try to compensate by eating more of the good fats from nuts and fish.
3-4 cups cold cooked organic basmati rice (or rice of your choice)
4 tablespoons refined organic coconut oil (refined does not have a coconut flavor)
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup soft skinned cucumber quartered and sliced
Salt to taste (I use pink Himalayan salt)
1 potato peeled and grated
- Cook 1½ cups of rice in rice cooker or on stovetop according to directions, but using slightly less water. Firmer rice is easier to stir fry. Be sure to add salt.
- While rice is cooking, make the lentil curry (below), since rice needs to be cold.
- When rice has cooked, transfer to large bowl and fluff with fork. Place uncovered in refrigerator to cool completely.
- Prevent other members of household from eating the rice as it cools.
- Dice the onion.
- Quarter and slice the cucumber. If cucumber skin is hard or bitter, partially peel leaving some green.
- Salt the cucumber pieces.
- Peel and grate the potato. Set aside.
- Put 1 tablespoon of refined coconut oil into a wok and heat on medium high.
- Realize, although this is a simple recipe, it’s still a lot of work. Open a bottle of IPA or other fine craft brew. Replenish as needed.
- When hot, add onion and mustard seeds. Stir until onion begins to soften slightly and mustard seeds begin to pop and jump in pan.
- Add cucumber and stir only to heat through.
- Add cold rice and stir again until heated through.
- Remove wok from stove eye and set aside.
- Place medium-sized skillet over the medium-high heat and add 3 tablespoons of the coconut oil.
- When oil is hot, add grated potato in a thin layer over the bottom of the skillet – like hash browns.
- Fry potato until it browns and begins to release from skillet.
- Use a spatula to flip hash browns. Brown the other side.
- Salt both sides of hash browns.
- Transfer rice to platter and top with hash browns.
- Add fresh cilantro sprigs.
I adapted the lentil curry recipe below from a couple of cookbooks. One was a dollar sale item from a warehouse bookseller, Lalita Ahmed’s Indian Cooking. The other was The Bread and Circus Whole Food Bible. I’ve had both for about as long as I’ve been cooking and use them as easy references or starting points for dishes I might want to make. I took overlapping ingredients from a few of Ahmed’s daal recipes and the “Hints of the Himalayas Lentil-Rice Casserole” from The Whole Food Bible and came up with what I thought were the essential ingredients for an easy, great tasting lentil curry.
Easy Lentil Curry
2 cups split red lentils
Water to cover
3 tablespoons butter or ghee
1 diced onion (about 1 cup)
2 teaspoons peeled and minced fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (seeds from 3-4 pods)
3 large pressed garlic cloves
7+ cups chicken bone broth (strained)
¼ cup white wine (optional)
1 cup fresh diced tomato or 1 can drained
Salt to taste
Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
- Rinse and soak lentils in water for about 20 minutes.
- Add butter or ghee to soup pan and melt on medium-high.
- Add onions, ginger root, turmeric, cayenne, cumin, and cardamom. Stir until onions begin to caramelize.
- Add pressed garlic. Stir and cook to release fragrance, but do not let brown / turn bitter.
- Deglaze pan with the wine or a ladle of the chicken broth.
- Swig wine from bottle to test for quality or just pour a glass. Repeat as needed.
- Place lentils in strainer and rinse under running water.
- Add drained lentils to pot with enough broth to cover.
- Add salt to taste.
- Cook lentils until they begin to soften and thicken the curry. Add more broth as necessary to keep the consistency you prefer.
- Add drained can of tomatoes or freshly diced tomato and continue to cook until lentils begin to break down.
- Serve in small bowls with a garnish of fresh cilantro.