We try to eat meatless meals during the week, whenever we can, while still making them healthy and tasty. Our employees from India are teaching us some wonderful vegetarian meals and they take relatively little time to prepare. I have prepared this ahead of time so I can just pop it into the oven when I get home from work and heat it through. This, along with some Naan and a salad is quite fortifying on its own, but you could serve it as a side dish with some kabobs for a summer cookout.
Pilaf of Rice and Split Peas
1/2 cup yellow split peas
2 cups Basmati rice (Or other long grain rice)
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and then cut crosswise into fine half rings
2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp crushed fresh garlic
5 Tbsp plain yogurt
1/8-1/4 tsp red chili powder (cayenne pepper)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter cut into small pieces
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander(cilantro)
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
2-4 fresh green chilies, very finely chopped
1/2 tsp. garam masala
Sort through the split peas for any stones and wash in several changes of water. Leave to soak in enough water to cover it by 3-inches for 1-1/2 hours.
Wash the rice in several changes of water. Leave to soak in water to cover by 2-inches for 30 minutes.
Put the split peas and it soaking liquid into a pan. Add 1/4 tsp turmeric and bring to a boil. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, turn the heat down and simmer for about 30 minutes or until it is almost tender but the grains are still whole. Drain.
Heat the oil in non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, put in the onions. Stir and fry them until they are a rich reddish-brown color and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and spread out on a plate lined with paper towels. Put the ginger and garlic into the same oil Stir and fry until lightly browned. Now put in the remaining 1/4 tsp of turmeric and 1 Tbsp of the yogurt. Stir and fry until most of the liquid in the yogurt evaporates and the remaining particles brown lightly. Add the remaining yogurt 1 Tbsp at a time and cook in the same way, Now put in the drained split peas, 1/2 tsp of salt and the chilies powder (cayenne). Stir to mix. Saute the peas for about 1 minute.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Bring 12 cups of water to a rolling boil. Add 1 Tbsp of salt and stir. Now put in the drained rice and bring to a boil again. Boil vigorously for 5 minutes or until the rice is about 3/4 cooked. It should retain a slim, hard, inner core. Drain the rice and empty half of it into a wide, oven proof casserole pan.
Cover the rice with the split pea mixture and cover that with the remaining rice. Spread the browned onions and bits of butter over the rice. Sprinkle the lemon juice and milk, fresh coriander, mint, green chilies and garam masala over the top. Cover tightly, first with foil and then with a lid and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Stir gently to mix before serving. Serves 6.