Red Lentil Pilau

One of the first dishes I made that I was really happy with was from a red lentil pilau recipe that I discovered a couple of years ago.  I cooked this a few times for Leslie back in Auburn Hills, and choose to bring it as a side-dish when Twinkle hosted Thanksgiving last year.  Last night I made it again for the first time in a year, and was quickly reminded why I love it so much: the ingredients are inexpensive, preparation is straight-forward, you can let it cook essentially unattended, and it re-heats extremely well for an easy lunch the next day.  Also, it’s delicious.  Here’s the recipe, slightly modified based on my own experiences:


  • 3 tsp Garam masala (you can find this spice mix at Indian grocers and sometimes at larger grocery chains)
  • 3 tbsp virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped into 1/4″ pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 3 cups hot vegetable stock
  • 1 or 2 spring onions, thinly sliced


  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan (it will need to hold all of the rice, lentils, onions, and stock).
  2. Stir the garam masala into the oil.
  3. Add onions and garlic.  Cook over medium until the onions soften (about 3 minutes).
  4. Stir in the rice and lentils and cook (stirring constantly) for 2 minutes.
  5. Slowly stir in the vegetable stock.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the rice is cooked and all of the stock has been absorbed (about 30-40 minutes).
  7. Move the mixture to a serving dish and fluff the rice with a fork.  Garnish with spring onion and serve!


Twinkle introduced me to the wonders of leeks last year, and I keep finding new ways to incorporate them into my cooking.  First (since this was all new to me), a leek is a vegetable related to the onion, but tends to be more prominent in a dish’s flavor than if the chef had used onions instead.  I also find the texture to be more satisfying, but that’s just personal preference.  You can easily chop them up into strips and saute them with some garlic in butter, but I’ve lately found that I like to just get them sizzling for a minute or two, then add some salt and pepper, drop the heat to a simmer, and sweat them until they’re slightly translucent.

Yesterday I added some leeks prepared as above to a bottled pasta sauce with fabulous results.  They add a nice texture to the pasta dish (penne, in this case), and provide some extra variety to the flavor of the sauce.  For a quick side dish, you can saute the leeks until they just begin to brown, then splash in a bit of white wine and stir in some other vegetables (peas or zucchini work well), boil off the wine, and serve!