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 :)


indosungod said…
PJ, Good Luck & Best Wishes with your new home. It is always exciting setting up a new home. From what I know of you through this blog space it will be a warm, cozy and welcoming place. (Are you wondering if hidden motivations like inviting myself over are at play here? Maybe so. I leave you to guess while you unpack.)

As for this rice, it is a delight and my puy lentils will be happy to be in a rice like this one and yes those rice cookers are perfect for such a preparation.
Oh dear PJ,so loved reading this post...i love how cutely the rice cooker landed with its present cutely owner, ur hubby rocks and ur new place has me excited all over....i almost wish it was time for me to be married and moving homes too-sounds so so so romantic and cute ,the way u guys r packing et all...and u have a fantastic recipe too...i'll miss u but am sure u wont allow me to miss u too muc ;-)))),i hope!!!
Jus kidding and not kidding too :-)))
all the best and have fun while ur at it...
SathyaSridhar said…
PJ, Congrats for shifting to your new home...Thats soo cute both of u dear.Happy moments dear...then Lentil rice looks soo delicious n yummy,,, i like this spicy rice with my raita,,, hope u too enjoyed with ur hubby. thanks for sharing dear,,take care n keep smiling,,,
Cool Lassi(e) said…
Enjoy your new home. Its a lot of fun.:)
Nupur said…
Thank you so much for this lovely entry- and for keeping the rice cooker unpacked and taking the trouble to make this. Very sweet of you!!

Incidentally, I bought the EXACT same brand and model that you have. So now I know mine will last a few years at least ;)

Congratulations on becoming a first-time home buyer. How exciting! I hope you have a wonderful time decorating your new nest and here's wishing you many many happy meals in your new kitchen.
PJ said…
Indo, thanks! It is very exciting indeed setting up your new home. You could be the first guest at our home :) we would have a puy lentils and rice party there!

Mia, as I read your comment I see that I have only given you the rosy picture of a marriage and omitted a lot.. for example, how me and my husband are having these silly fights over what stuff to throw before and what to keep (i want to keep all, he wants to throw as much) :) I am hoping I won't let you miss me too much at-all!

Sathya, thanks so much for your sweet words and best wishes! means a lot to me :)

Cool Lassi(e), thanks a lot for your best wishes, dear! Its a lot of work, but we are having fun so far :)

Nupur, thanks so much for hosting this event and for your best wishes! It was no trouble at-all, I love my rice cooker and would have looked for each and any reason to keep it unpacked for as long as possible.
Priya Suresh said…
Hi Pj, my hearty wishes and congrats for shifting to ur new home, will u many more beautiful things in ur new own place dear..

Such a nutritious, healthy and unique combination..Fantastic dish..
evolvingtastes said…
PJ, congratulations on your house! Good luck for a happy move.
Hayley said…
Hey PJ

Enjoy your new home and ya youare right we do give people a rosy picture of marriage..those little little things we leave it..but, hey marriage is a good thing!! rice looks perfect..
PJ said…
Priya, thanks so much for your best wishes! We are definitely looking forward to settling into the new place and bringing some sanity back in life :)

EvolvingTastes, thanks so much for your lovely wishes!

Jagruti, isn't it, only then I realized how i am just subconciously omitting the quarrels and the arguments and so on :) Thanks a lot for your best wishes, dear, they mean a lot to me!
Sonia said…
So did ur hubby wait till you were taking this beautiful pics of rice bowls?;)Your rice looks so fluffy and separate. Even I'm thinking to buy my rice cooker. I still follow our old-fashioned method (cook in boiled water) to cook rice for pulav and biryani.
Do you think the rice cooker can cook rice fluffy and separate each grain?
btw, this time ur pics are very good. what did you use for white background?

Good luck for everything to you both! Will gonna to miss you. Please come back as early as possible. :)
Best wishes for your new home. Rice looks delicious. I do prepare any rice the same way, gives perfect rice.
MaryMoh said…
A healthy rice. Looks very delicious. I like it.
PJ said…
Hi Sonia, oh, i definitely recommend buying a rice cooker. it takes a couple of tries to figure out how much water your cooker needs, but once the equation is set then you do get perfect fluffed up rice everytime.. and without any human intervention :) Thanks for the pics, husband was busy packing so i could spent a lot of time taking pics today. The white background is the foam board which I found at a local craft store for $2 each, its working out so well! if all the packing/moving goes as planned hopefully I won't let you all miss me too long :)

N S, thanks so much for your lovely wishes! Isn't rice cooker the easiest way to make perfect rice!

MaryMoh, thanks! I am so glad you liked the rice dish.
Hari Chandana P said…
congrats for shifting to ur new home.. :) :) :)
Latha said…
Congrats and best wishes on your new home. Happy packing and shifting.

Rice dish looks fantastic.
Sushma Mallya said…
Rice looks simply beautiful Pj,nice blend of ingredients to do this..delicious rice..your clicks are always beautiful..
PJ said…
Hari, thanks a lot for your wishes :) It has been great so far moving into our own place!

Latha, thanks a lot for your best wishes, means a lot to me :)

Sushma, thanks! I am so glad you liked the rice and the clicks.
Pari Vasisht said…
Hi PJ, I am superexcited that my dear friend is moving into her own nest. Lovely!!!! It's fun and at the same time tiring. Can u believe I have moved 4 cities in the past 4-1/2 years and in between managed a gruhapravesh too where my tenants live :-(.
But as u say a large kitchen is what a foodie aspires for and gladly I have a one in my own ..
The rice cooker is my saviour when I have to cook many things I very conveniently switch to that. The rice looks so good with that dana dana khila khila!! All the best wishes for your BIG MOVE, and looking forward to ur recipes from ur new kitchen.
Congrats for being a new house owner, I'm sure you have a lot of things to do, will take some time to settle down...Rice looks so delicious, love your photo too...
Deepa said…
What a great and a happy news this is..We all desire to own our own house in life and its so nice to see that you have done this..All my good wishes and hearty congratulations to you both..Good luck for the new life in your new house..Once you shift in and settle down, do post some snaps of the house, especially the kitchen..

Yes now the rice..It looks so deliciously tasty...can wait to try one but I do not own a rice cooker..will try in a pressure cooker..
Meena said…
All the best PJ...hope the new home brings every possible happiness to you and your family...

You are right...I use my rice cooker not just for rice but for sooji upma, khichdi, cooking quinoa, cracked wheat...it even cooks brown rice...great appliance for any cook to have.
Kanchan said…
Happy Moving :) Congrats on your new home !

So must be totally excited arranging - rearranging stuffs .. have a nice time, you can always click snap to see the before-after version of your kitchen !

Cooker in any form is a savior for most of us Indians !
pierre said…
hi Pj verydelicate dish and nice photos too bravo !! Pierre from paris
Kalyn Denny said…
Good luck with the move, and I must say this rice looks absolutely perfect!
Sarah Naveen said…
Congrats on ur new home gal...
Rice looks super delicious with an amazing click..
Miri said…
Congratulations! Good luck as you move into your own little patch of heaven - and yes the arguments over home decor will always be there :)

The rice looks perfect - MIL is the one who made me see how well one could do with a rice cooker. She turns out perfect biryanis and pulaos and even bisibele bhath each time people come over!
R said…
looks absolutely delicious! congratulations for ur new home and good luc for the move!!
PJ said…
Hi Pari, wow, 4moves in 4.5 yrs! that must be tiring and exciting at the same time for sure! A big kitchen is so wonderful, isn't it, particularly for people like us who spend so much of our waking time in and around kitchen :) Thanks a lot for all your best wishes, Pari, I sure need them right now :)

Treat and Trick, thanks so much for all your warm wishes! I think it will surely take atleast a couple of weeks to settle down at the new place and get used to it!

Deepa, home-ownership is sure a dream, particularly for young couples, but as it syncs in I realize that it comes with a lot of extra work.. like not having the luxury to call apartment people to fix the faucets is something I still have to get used to :) All in all, its a change that we are excited about!

Meena, thanks so much for all your best wishes! I have never used my rice cooker for sooji upma but thats a fantastic idea.. I have got to try this soon!

Kanchan, thanks so much for your best wishes! I'll surely post some pics, I have a before version of the kitchen clicked already.. :)
Namitha said…
Congrats on your new house and good luck ,PJ :-)
I think I should get this cooker too :-) What a flavorful rice you have here..awesome clicks too
PJ said…
Pierre, thanks! I am so glad you liked the dish and the click.

Kalyn, thanks so much for your best wishes! I am so glad you liked the rice too.

Sarah, thanks so much for your lovely wishes!

Miri, we are already having arguments about what to throw and keep and I am sure there will be more about rearranging... but hey, whats the fun in moving without the arguments once in a while :D Isn't rice cooker a life-saver, particularly in Indian kicthens where we are always cooking so many dishes at once.

R, thanks so much for your best wishes! I am so glad you liked the rice too.

Gulmohar, thanks! We are both sure so excited. You should definitely get a rice cooker, they are relatively cheap and the investment sure pays off over time for itself. I love the fact that it churns out perfectly cooked rice everytime without human intervention, because whenever I intervene I mess up :D
Preety said…
congrats on your new house dear..

lovely looking rice dear
Siddhi Shirsat said…
wow pj nice and quick rice recipe...lovely combo of lentils with mushrooms...hey good luck n wishes for ur new home...have an awesome time thr
Jhonny walker said…
what a good idea...I always lose it with rice..this will definitely make my to-buy list!
big big congrats on being new home owners...love your advocation for buying a rice cooker..we also cant think without it ;-)great recipe..it surely tastes yummm... we have an award waiting for u. pls come by to collect it.
PJ said…
Preety, thanks so much for your wishes! I am so glad you liked the rice too.

Siddhi, thanks! I love lentils and mushrooms too.. actually, i love mushrooms anywhere :)

Jhonny, rice cooker is definitely a life-saver if you do a lot of multi-tasking in kitchen. Now a days it doesn't cost much also and churns out perfectly cooked rice everytime!

AdukalaVishesham, thanks so much for your best wishes! My rice cooker sure has become a inseparable appliance for me. Thanks for the award, dear, I am off to collect it in a jiffy.
tasteofbeirut said…
Best wishes on your move! and thanks for this great dish (we also make a similar one in our cuisine) and fabulous pics!
Hamaree Rasoi said…
Hi PJ,
Congrats for being a house owner now!!
I agree with you that Rice Cooker acts like a life saver provided you know it's features properly. I know many people who own a rice cooker for years, but assume that a rice cooker is only useful for cooking rice.
I use it frequently :-)
Rice looks perfect!
Joanne said…
I have a really crappy rice cooker and have been meaning to get a new one for some time. This meal is just the kick in teh butt that I need because how can I procrastinate when I absolutely HAVE to make this dish?

Good luck with the move! And congrats on owning a house! So exciting.
Hi first of all congrats on owning a house..its really exciting!!! You know I did not get ur post update but I really missed your lovely comments for my last 3 posts.Actually I hopped in your blog to ask what happened ? Surprisingly came to know ur in the process of shifting and virtual treat of rice..which looks so so yummy with beautiful clicks. Congrats again and take time and come with a bang.
PJ said…
Taste Of Beirut, thanks so much for stopping by and for your best wishes! I am so glad you liked the dish and the pics.

Deepa, isn't it a life saver.. particularly for preparing Indian meals where we are usually doing many things at once. Thanks so much for your wishes, Deepa!

Joanne, oh, you should definitely get a rice cooker, I am sure you would find the most unique dishes to make out of it! Thanks for your wishes, Joanne. I am hoping everything gets done quickly.

Pavithra, oh no, I am so sorry to miss your posts too.. thanks so much for your best wishes and your sweet words.. I am hoping to get the packing done quickly so I can hop back to blogging asap :)
Cham said…
Congrats on ur new home! Have fun unpacking and decorating!
Rice cooker, I cannot live without that!, I ve tried everything in the market! The BEST is panasonic, But I have a 5 cups rice cooker for 3 of us :) Which doesn't fill the counter top!
Cham said…
Hehe forgot the rice with lentil looks catchy :)
Cicily Antony said…
congrats!!! and mushroom rice looks yummy...
tinyskillet said…
Best wishes on your move! This is a lovely recipe! My rice cooker that I've had for years, just gave out on me last weekend. I loved it, now I have to search for a new one, AHRG!!! Thanks for your input!
Parita said…
Best wishes for your new home PJ! I know how moving can be emotionally as well as physically tiring. Sometime back even I had thought of buying a rice cooker especially becoz i always used to over cook my rice and never used to get those perfectly cooked rice grain which look seperated but now i think i should have bought it :)
Rice dish sounds very flavorful and the pictures are inviting too :)
PJ said…
Cham, thanks so much for your best wishes :) Yes, I have heard some friends rave about Panasonic.. 5C sounds interesting, particularly I like that it does not hog all the counter space.

Cicily, thanks! I am so glad you liked the mushroom rice.

Lyndsey, thanks so much for your best wishes. Oh no, but on the brighter side you can probably get something with many more features now; I see that my rice cooker actually dropped in price over the years.

Parita, thanks so much for your best wishes! That was exactly my point too! I always used to overcook the rice.. but with rice cooker now it cooks perfectly everytime. You should definitely consider buying one, its totally worth it.
Padhu Sankar said…
Rice looks perfect and yummy.Congrats and your New Home. Have fun and enjoy decorating the new house. Best wishes
Radhika said…
Great recipe! Congratulations on your first home! Good luck with the move and post pictures soon!
Anushree said…
Hi Tai,
I got here from the link on ur FB profilea..and boy its an awesome website! How u manage both work and culinary experiments I would never know! But keep writing! Ur blog is amazing and inspiring!!

PJ said…
Padhu, thanks so much for your wishes!I am already having so much fun decorating and redorganizing the new home :)

Radhika, thanks for your wishes! I'll surely post more pics after we are all setup.

Hi Anushree, thanks! I am so happy you liked this blog and the recipes :) Look forward to more of your visits here!
Mints! said…
Good luck on ur move. Its a great feeling to cook in bigger kitchen, decorating it per you choice. I'm sure you will enjoy.

Recipe looks awesome as usual.
R said…
PJ, there is an award for you in my blog, please get it whenever you get time now that u r busy w/the move :)
good luc for the move again!
San!!! said…
Wow that's an ecstatic news of moving to own nest PJ.Heartiest wishes to you n your husband,god bless you both.I could not catch many of your posts since i was on a break.Now iam back nn iam here to see your sweet news.You will be very much excited n with loads of happiness too,that's an amazing feeling.Lentil n mushroom rice is so decadent dear n the picture has been shot real good manner.Iam also on the verge of changing my rice cooker n will be getting another one soon .Liked the way of your narration n enjoyed reading it.Thanks for sharing the recipe .Have fun.
Came here to say hullo and saw ur cuter than cute replies :-))))
ha ha , i dont have a prob in that department or maybe i do....but how will i know ...when its my turn to get married will let ya know :-)))
PJ said…
Mints!, thanks so much for your best wishes. I am looking forward to a lot of decorating and fun times with the new house! So glad you liked the mushroom lentil rice.

R, thanks so much for the award.. thats so sweet of you. I am off to your blog now to collect it.

San!, thanks so much for your sweet words and best wishes! I am so glad you liked the recipe and the post.

Mia, heh heh, you should enjoy the luxury of decorating your room whichever way you like and also of cooking whatever you like to it as long as its there :D no, but really, its fun either way :)
Dolly Sharma said…
Dear PJ, I',m so excited for you..YOUR FIRST HOME.. Good luck with everything..I've been a bit off and on blogging mode lately..but was missing ur posts..so this morning I decided to check on what's PJ upto and I was happy I stopped by...

LOve thsi quick and easy recipe..of Spicy lenthil and mushroom rice. BTW I too bought a rice cooker when I was just married... But I hardly use it..I guess I must will try tis recipe in my ric e cooker.