Matar Pulao - Basmati Rice with Peas

This is a traditional recipe used in almost every household in Pakistan/India often. What I remember growing up is that it was considered rude to offer plain white boiled rice when we had guests around the dining table. The underlying rule was that something must be added to the rice to demonstrate hospitality. Perhaps add green peas or at the very least some whole spices e.g. cinnamon, whole cumin, green cardamoms, whole cloves or black cardamoms. Once something is added to the rice then it is called 'Pulao' and no longer just rice :) Also, matar means green peas!

Matar Pulao - Basmati Rice with Green Peas

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin
1 cinnamon stick - 2 inches
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups of basmati rice, gently rinsed
3 cups of warm water

Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat. Add whole spices and let everything sizzle for a couple of minutes. Add the frozen peas. Add salt. Gently stir everything together. Let the mixture come to a boil and then cover the pan and lower the heat. Rice should be ready in 12-14 minutes. Serve warm with a curry. 

Note: there are several ways to make this rice; can use shallots in addition to the whole spices or use a different combination of whole spices instead of cumin and cinnamon. 

Lentils with Fresh Spinach (Palak Dal) - Hearty and Delicious!

Growing up lentils were a big part of day to day meals, usually served with plain boiled white rice. Personally, I love lentils! Regardless of how they are cooked and incorporated in a recipe they are hearty and definitely a comfort food. Interestingly enough I have seen my kids going ga-ga over them, especially over the recipe I am about to share. 

The recipe I want to share today is orange lentils cooked with spinach and topped with onions and cilantro. 

Palak Dal (Lentils with Spinach)

2 cups orange lentils (Masoor Dal)
4 cups warm water
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Place the lentils in a pot and add the warm water. Place the pot on the stove on medium heat and let it come to a boil but don't let it boil over or you will be cleaning the stove forever :). Turn down the heat a little and add all the ground spices. Let everything cook for 15 minutes or so. Add spinach and stir everything together. Let everything cook for another 5-7 minutes and turn the heat off. 

In a frying pan, heat the oil. Add onions and let them turn golden brown. Add the onions with the oil to the lentils. Add cilantro and serve with rice or as a soup. 

Spinach with Lentils - Dane County Farmer's Market

I love making this recipe when the season starts to change and I start to crave warm soups and stews. This recipe is a popular traditional Pakistani recipe which really warms you up. Over the years I have noticed that this has become one of the favorite comfort foods for my kids and I. Serve it as a soup or on top of plain basmati rice, it will warm you up like nobody's business. Traditionally it is called "Palak Dal" - Palak is spinach and Dal is the lentils. 

As always cook something beautiful and delicious!

Palak Dal

1 cup yellow lentils
3 cups warm water
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound fresh spinach, chopped

Wash the lentils thoroughly, add warm water and bring to a boil. Add all spices and let it cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes. Add chopped spinach and cook for another 15 minutes. Heat the oil in a separate frying pan, add the thinly sliced onions and saute them until they turn dark brown. Top the lentils with the oil and the sauteed onions and cover the pot for a a couple of minutes.Serve warm with basmati rice.