Spiced lentils and mushroom rice and an update!

Everyone has a select list of kitchen appliances that they can't live without. These are the ones which occupy the very precious counter space in your kitchen. For me its my coffee maker and my rice cooker. A few years ago I was debating very heavily whether to invest in a rice cooker or not. Our old pressure cooker was working fine and buying a rice cooker on student budget seemed like a luxury. 

I bought my rice cooker when I was newly married and I must confess one of my main motivations for buying a rice cooker was that even simple things like making a perfect rice were not my domain then! To add to my misery, my husband would almost always churn out a perfectly cooked rice using our old pressure cooker and mine would always be a bit overcooked as I would start the pressure cooker and wander off in my own world forgetting to turn the cooker off at the right time. 

So, well, you can imagine, the allure of a perfectly cooked rice everytime without human intervention was oh so very tempting to a new-bride racing her husband for the perfect rice! I bought a modest 16C Black & Decker rice cooker. Whatever my motivations may be, today I can safely say that it was the best $30 (I think) I spent.

16C is enough to serve a party of 6-8 people and I have been generally happy with the quality of the rice cooker. Now I use it for all sorts of things like making khichadi, rice, pulav, masale-bhat etc. Another thing my rice cooker cooks beautifully is quinoa! So if you are wondering whether to buy it or not, I strongly recommend one! Its a good investment that will keep paying off.

Today I made a simple spiced rice and lentil dish from Fat Free Vegan blog. The dish is very close to the spicy khichadi recipe except that the original recipe called for brown lentils instead of toor daal which is more commonplace in khichadi. I added mushrooms because I had some threating to go bad on me and because I just love mushroom rice.

Recipe: Spiced lentils and mushroom rice
Source: adapted from this Fat Free Vegan recipe
1C basamati rice
1/2C brown/french green lentils
3C water (or as recommended by your rice cooker manual)
1 chopped red pepper
7-8 button mushrooms - sliced
1 clove of garlic - minced
1tsp oil

1 cinnamon stick
2 dried bay leaves
1/2tsp cumin powder
few whole peppercorns
1/8tsp garam masala (or to taste)

  1. Rinse and clean rice and lentils and set aside for half an hour.
  2. Heat oil in a small pan. Add minced garlic and sliced mushrooms. Saute on medium heat until most of the mushroom water has evaporated. Season with a bit of salt.
  3. In your rice cooker add all the ingredients, mix well, turn the rice cooker on.
  4. When ready, fluff up the rice using a fork and serve garnished with fresh cilantro and side of some yogurt raita or some daal. 
Tip: If your rice cooker foams up during cooking like mine and issues water and food droplets through the vent hole sogging up any wooden closest placed above the rice cooker, then try this: add a bit oil during cooking rice and it won't fog up anymore. I read the tip in the recipe source above and it has always worked for me since then!

I am sending a warm bowl of this spiced lentils and mushroom rice to Nupur of One Hot Stove for her Blog Bites #1 event, this time circling around cookers!
An update:
If you were to visit me today (literally, not virtually :D), all over my apartment are a series of storage boxes packed and stacked haphazardly. Half of our stuff is lying on the floor to be packed and questions like do we need more tape? did we call PGE to turn off electricity is what is on my mind for most part. Yes, you guessed it right, we are moving! best of all to our own first home! I am super excited and I am definitely looking forward to a kitchen which is bigger than my office cube-sized kitchen of today and a tiny little yard (well, most of it is cemented right now, but we'll figure something out) :D It is a time of nostalgia towards our old apartment where we stayed for many years with a lot of happy memories but also a happy anticipation and pride of moving into our own place that has us both walking in a parallel universe of sorts, or so to speak. 

I plan to continue maintaining Ginger & Garlic over the next few weeks of packing/moving/unpacking but invariably responses will be slow. Half of my kitchen is already packed (yes, I kept the rice cooker unpacked for this recipe alone. Now, as I write, my husband is packing away this last big appliance left in the kitchen) so some of the posts next would come from the drafts or would be some simple one-pot no-fuss dishes.

Over the next couple of weeks if I seem a bit slow in blog-hopping or responding to your questions and comments or just in general with new posts, it is because of this transition. I hope you will bear with me through this transition and I look forward to cooking scrumptious dishes from my own kitchen next :)