Monday, March 16, 2009

120. Lentils and Curried Rice with Fried Onions (p. 277)

These days, I'm still trolling through The Book looking for dishes that I can cook on the weekend that my wife and I can eat for dinner throughout the week. (With a ten-week old baby, we still haven't found the time get back into the routine of weeknight cooking.)

The Book's headnotes for this recipe* includes a little Bible story. Apparently, in the Old Testament, Esau gave up his birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of lentil soup. This dish was good, and all, but I don't think that I'd give up an inheritance for it ... that is, if I had a rich uncle, which I don't think that I do. While the lentil may have strong Hebrew roots, this particular dish is based on an Indian classic called khichri.

First, I sliced up a pound of onions really thin. That's a lot of onions, a lot of slicing, and yes, a lot of tears. I used to think that they were kind of silly, but less than half-way through my slicing, I really wished I had a pair of these onion goggles. The sliced onions went into a cast-iron pan with about two cups of hot oil. I fried the onions in two batches. The first was a little overdone; the second a little underdone. I tossed them all together, seasoned them with some salt and pepper, and believe it or not, the result was fine. They were crispy, and had a niced caramelized flavor. I set them aside until the rest of the dish was finished.

Next, I cooked the lentils by putting them in cold water, bringing them to a boil and then simmering for a little while. Then I drained and rinsed them, and set them aside.

Then I toasted some dry rice in a little oil with some curry power and cayenne pepper. Once it was nice and fragrant, I added some water, brought it to a boil and cooked it until the rice was done.

To finish the dish, I fluffed the cooked rice and stirred in the lentils and plenty of chopped parsley. I topped it off with some of the fried onions and some leftover cooked chicken. (The Book says that this dish is good with lamb, too.)

This was a pretty good dish. The curry flavor was excellent, and the rice and lentils were perfectly cooked. The fried onions were a very nice touch. But this was the first time I've ever deep fried anything, and I've got one question that I haven't been able to find an answer to. What do I do with the used cooking oil? I strained it and put it in a container in my refirgerator. It seems like an awful lot of oil to just pour down the drain (will it clog the pipes?), but I don't know if I can re-use it either. If you've got any insights, put 'em in the comments.

Date Cooked: March 1, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: B

*This recipe is not on


Melissa Bach Palladino said...

I do the same thing--strain it and save to re-use in other frying recipes. But you can pour it down the drain--it's not like bacon grease, which congeals when it's cold. If you're seriously worried anyway, just throw the full bottle in your trashcan, or run hot water like crazy down your drain when you dump the oil.

Btw, I enjoyed this dish too. Mmm, love them fried onions.

Liz C said...

I know you can reuse it but I fry so rarely that I don't usually save it.

I've been known to take it outside and dump it on the ground in an out-of-the-way corner.

Or, if you want to put it down the drain and you're paranoid (like me) you can add what seems like an appropriate amount of dishwashing liquid (hand, not automatic) and a little hot water and swish it around until the oil is 'emulsified'. Then rise it down with a butt-ton of hot water.

I wish the recipe was online - I'd like to try it.