Tamarind Rice with Black Lentils

(10 minutes, serves 4)

Ever since I had children, I’ve become a little more focused on trying to get some protein into every meal, if possible. Lentils are protein powerhouses, and these lentils don’t even require any soaking or boiling in advance — they just fry for a few minutes, and end up as crunchy little bites mixed in with the tangy tamarind rice. This rice is delicious with fried plantains, but to be honest, I often just eat it straight up, right out of the pot.

You can make fresh rice for this, but it’s also a terrific way to revive day-old rice!

2 c. cooked rice
2 T vegetable oil
1 T urad dal (black lentil)
1/2 t. black mustard seed
1/2 t. fennel seed
4 dried red chilies
1 stalk (about a dozen) fresh curry leaves
1 T cayenne
1 t. ground jaggery or brown sugar
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground turmeric

6 T tamarind juice (1 T tamarind paste dissolved in 5 T hot water)

NOTE: This recipe moves quickly, and it’s worth having all the ingredients prepped in advance. You can measure out the whole spices into one container, and the ground spices into another, and dissolve the tamarind paste in advance.

1. Heat oil on medium-high and sauté lentil, mustard seed, cumin seed, dried chilies, curry leaves for two minutes, stirring constantly — be careful not to burn.

2. Stir in ground spices, then add tamarind juice. Bring to a boil and let simmer a few minutes, until thickened.

3. Remove from heat and stir in rice, mixing until well-blended. Serve hot!

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