Don’t toss this recipe aside because of the black rice. Yes, it’s an unusual ingredient, but worth getting to know. Besides the lovely nutty taste and the wow appeal of the color, this dark, purple black rice is super rich in vitamins and minerals and a fantastic source of antioxidants. However, if black rice seems like one ingredient too far, brown rice with its similar flavour and texture profile is a worthy substitute!
But don’t get too focused on the rice, the real star is the spiced eggplant. Tossed with chilli, cumin and turmeric it has a little heat, a lot of flavour and a beautiful golden hue and turns this dish from ho-hum rice and lentils into something truly delicious. Please feel free to double the up on the quantities.
Lentils come in a various shapes and colors. For this recipe green lentils are the best choice, especially the small, darker French variety. These lentils keep their shape when cooked making them more suitable for salads or dishes where you would want the whole bean. Salting the lentils during the cooking also helps to keep them from breaking down.
This recipe was liberally adapted from an article in the Guardian Observer, Six Easy Vegetarian Recipes from the Green Kitchen/ David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl.
Black rice, green lentils and spicy eggplant
- Serves 6
- 250 g (1 cup) black or brown rice
- 250 g (1 cup) green lentils (French lentils, if available)
- 4 whole green cardamoms, crushed (*optional)
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for dressing final dish
- 2 lemons, cut in half for juice
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 1 eggplant (aubergine)
- 1 small red onion
- 1 ripe avocado
- A large handful of kale, stems removed and torn into bite size pieces
- Several sprigs of fresh parsley or mint (or eventually both), chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To serve:
- Full-fat, plain unsweetened yogurt, seasoned with salt, pepper and whisked with dash of olive oil
- Pistachio nuts or whole almonds with skin on, roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 200C (390° F) and line a baking tray with parchment or lightly oiled aluminium foil.
- Rinse and drain the lentils. Place in a medium size saucepan with 4 cups of water, 2 of the crushed cardamom pods and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook on a low simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until tender. When cooked, drain, then put in a large mixing bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside to cool.
- At the same time, rinse and drain the rice. Place in a separate medium size saucepan with 4 cups of water, the 2 remaining cardamom pods and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated and the rice is tender. Remove from heat, drain, then return the rice to the pot. Cover the pot with a clean tea towel, replace the lid and let the hot, drained rice rest, off the heat for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork and toss with the lentils.
- While the rice and lentils are cooking, whisk 4 tablespoons of the olive oil with the juice of 1 lemon, the spices and a pinch of salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cut the aubergine into bite-sized pieces, add to the bowl, toss until well coated. Transfer to the lined baking tray. (Reserve the bowl without washing)
- Bake the aubergine for 25-30 minutes or until tender and slightly golden brown. Set aside to cool.
- Cut the onion in half and finely slice. Put it into the same bowl that held the aubergine along with the kale. Toss these ingredients with a pinch of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice and a tablespoon of olive oil. Let the vegetables sit to wilt and soften for at least 10 minutes.
- When everything is ready and just before serving, remove the flesh from the avocado and chop into bite-sized pieces.
- Add the eggplant, the softened kale and onion, the avocado and the mint. Gently toss to combine. Taste and season with remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Spoon onto a serving platter or individual plates. Serve topped with the seasoned yogurt and chopped nuts.