Curried Lentil and Rice Stew

First, boil 1 and 1/3 cups salted water of high heat and add:
2/3 cup of long grain brown rice
Simmer on low, covered, until the rice is almost done (about 15-20 minutes). Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, puree in a food processor:
1-2 serrano or thai chilis, stemed and sliced length-wise
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 small carrot, roughly chopped
1 rib of celery, roughly chopped

If the mixture is not chopping sufficiently, you can add a little water to coax the ingredients into a smooth puree (just don’t go so far as to make it look like baby food)

Heat in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

Once the butter is melted, but not browned, pour the puree into the hot fat, being careful of the splatters. Stir until it begins to thicken and is very fragrant (about 2 minutes), then add:
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 tablespoon tumeric

Stir the spices into the puree until they begin to smell warm and toasty (about another minute or so). Then, add:
2/3 cup brown lentils
Toss until the spice mixture coats the lentils, then fill the pot with cold water, just to cover. Simmer on medium-low heat, covered, for about 10 minutes. I usually have a taste of the lentils at this point, to see how they are doing. Depending on freshness, they can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes to cook. If they taste like they are on their way to being done, add:
2/3 cup of red lentils
If not, just cook them in 10 minute increments. The point here is to give the brown lentils a head start; the red lentils take very little time to cook (about 10 minutes altogether)

Once the lentils are done to your liking, stir in the cooked rice and bring up to a simmer for a minute or two, then season with salt (no salt prior to cooking the lentils because it makes them tough). You can also add a little water at this point to thin out the mixture if it is too thick. Serve in big, deep bowls with some good crusty bread.


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