Kicharee!

If you're actually looking for a real recipe, with measurements and nicely organized ingredient lists and so on, this is not the place.  One of the amazing aspects of kicharee is that it'll be flexible to what your kitchen actually has - not what you wish you remembered to stock it with.  Trust me - it's magical.

I somehow stumbled upon this kicharee inspiration, by Mindy Toomay.  This simple post made me give kicharee a shot, and it's a winter staple now in our lives - and a way to use the strange vegetables we occasionally find in our CSA box!  Here's the paragraph that started me on this exploration:

Anyway, kicheree. It can include any number of vegetables and spices, and always includes some kind of "dal" (split legume), basmati rice, and "ghee" (clarified butter). The spices are heated in the ghee, then the vegetables are added and sauteed for a few minutes. Then you add vegetable stock or water and when it comes to a boil, in goes the dal (split mung beans, available at natural food stores, is a traditional choice, but you can use red lentils instead). After about 10 minutes of boiling, the rice goes in, then all is gently simmered (stirring the pot occasionally) until it turns into a lovely, aromatic stew.

First off, I use butter instead of ghee - probably a horrible misstep, but I a) don't have the time to make ghee and b) don't know where I'd buy it.  So butter it is!  I take the toasting-spices order seriously - especially little brown mustard seeds that add such a nice pop! sensation in the final dish.  Be careful not to burn the spices, especially if you're not familiar with the process.  Try to use a pretty low heat during your first attempt, as if you were cooking garlic very gently.  

Second, add veggies and sautee them a bit.  Add some hot water or vegetable stock (or make your own off-the-cuff blend of spices to pretend you have stock to put in it - nutritional yeast is an excellent part of keeping your own fake stock flavor around).  

Once it's boiling, add lentils - I use red lentils because they disintegrate so nicely into the kicharee, and make a beautiful thick broth.  (Kicharee made me fall in love with red lentils - it's the perfect winter soup ingredient!)  Then 10 minutes later, add the rice, make sure the pot's simmering, and wander off to wherever else you're needed.

"When is it done?!" you ask.  Well, unfortunately, the answer is:  it's done when it's done.  I recommend checking back every few minutes, and when the rice starts to look done, try taste-tasting the various ingredients.  (Hint:  if you can still see the red lentils in discrete little circles, it's not done!)  If the water starts getting too low and you think there's a chance of burning, just add some more hot water/stock.  Works just fiiiiine.