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Indian-Spiced Rice With Lentils

August 3, 2010

Indian-Spiced Rice With Lentils is a quick and easy one-pot dish that makes a delicious vegan main course; it would also be a great side dish for grilled meat….perhaps a Tandoori-style Chicken?

I adapted the recipe from one that Carrie found on The original recipe allowed only 13 minutes to cook the rice, which did not seem sufficient for basmati rice. I adjusted the timing, decreased the salt, omitted the sugar, and increased the ginger and turmeric. Chopped onions and grape tomatoes were welcome additions.

I used “regular” brown lentils, the type found at any supermarket. Red lentils are often used in Indian cooking; they cook much more quickly than other types of lentils. Next time I’ll try the recipe with red lentils. I’ll omit step 6 and add them when I add the rice, so the total cooking time for both will be about 20 minutes.

We both really enjoed the flavors in this recipe. I think the only thing I might do differently would be to add a minced jalapeno or serrano chile when I add the cinnamon, cloves, and cumin; we do like a bit of heat in Indian food.

A sliced mango was the perfect accompaniment with the Lentils and Rice, along with a salad of fresh lettuce from our garden.


Brown and red lentils:

Indian-Spiced Rice With Lentils

(Adapted from a recipe on epicurious, attributed to Hema Kundargi, and published in the December 2001 issue of Bon Appétit)

(print the recipe)

Serves 4 – 6


1 cup dried brown lentils

1 cup basmati rice

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup chopped sweet onion (about ½ large onion)

1 (2-inch) piece of cinnamon stick

2 whole cloves

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger

½ teaspoon turmeric

4 1/3 cups water

1 teaspoon kosher salt (or ¾ teaspoon table salt)*

1 cup grape tomatoes, washed and cut in half

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (juice from 1 large lime)


1. Rinse and drain the lentils and place in a bowl; rinse and drain the rice.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

3. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 – 8 minutes, until softened.

4. Add the cinnamon, cloves, and cumin seeds and cook for about 2 minutes.

5. Add the garlic, ginger, and turmeric; cook, stirring for about 30 seconds.

6. Add the water and salt; increase the heat to high to bring the water to a boil. When boiling, reduce heat to medium and add the lentils; cook for about 8 minutes.

7. Increase the heat to high and add the rice. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.

8. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer; cook for 15 minutes, until the lentils and rice are tender and the water is absorbed.

9. Stir in the tomatoes; cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes.

10. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice and it’s ready to serve.

* 1 tablespoon coarse or Kosher salt = 2 teaspoons regular (table) salt

17 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2010 10:19 am

    oh dear ….. this is brilliant stuff. i recall my mummy making this and we call them KITCHDI. i love this….

    • August 3, 2010 10:27 am

      Thank you, Abraham! Kitchdi…I love knowing what it is called in India. 🙂

      What kind of lentils did your mother use? And do you think a jalapeno or serrano chile would be a good addition?

  2. August 3, 2010 1:02 pm

    This sounds very tasty! I love all the seasonings in this dish.

  3. August 3, 2010 9:58 pm

    hi, i am pleased to present you with an award that’s waiting on my blog.

  4. August 4, 2010 10:23 am

    Wow looks great! I am always looking for new ways to cook lentils 🙂

  5. August 4, 2010 1:41 pm

    Looking good–and I have all of this on hand. I bought lentils recently and just have had no clue what to do with them. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • August 4, 2010 3:27 pm

      Thanks, Baking Barrister! I’ll be interested to hear how this comes out for you, if you make it!

  6. August 4, 2010 1:57 pm

    hello kath,
    first time here n amazed with ur recipe collection …each recipe is so unique …this indian spiced rice looks soooo delicious ..u made it very nicely …we call this kichidi n we prepared this rice mostly with mung lentil and some times with split red gram with some veggies (potato)too …its one pot meal perfect for breaking a fast or for just a jiffy meal…very happy to visit ur space….
    if u get time do visit my blog too

    • August 4, 2010 3:29 pm

      Hi Satya,

      Thanks so much for your informative comments! Potatoes would be so good in this; thanks for that suggestion.

      I’m looking forward to exploring your blog. I just took a quick look and it looks like you have a lot of interesting recipes. 8)

  7. Carrie permalink
    August 4, 2010 4:11 pm

    what, no credit for finding and recommending the recipe?! now i know how dad feels… 😉

    • August 4, 2010 4:52 pm

      Sorry, Carrie! I didn’t know if you wanted to be mentioned. Fixed now! And thank you for finding the recipe! 🙂

  8. August 14, 2010 8:45 am

    This really looks wonderful. Your recipe is great but your photography is wonderful. Have a good day. Blessings…Mary

  9. Lily permalink
    June 25, 2012 2:13 am

    i’m Chinese and have been trying to find easy-to-cook Indian one-pots for busy days. My family would love this!

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