Rice with Lentils and Dates
- 2 cups basmati (long grain) rice
- 1/2 cup butter or vegetable oil
- 1 onion,
- 1 pound lamb or beef, cut into 3/4-inch cubes*
- Salt and
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1 cup brown or green lentils,
- 1/2 teaspoon good-quality confectioners saffron or crushed saffron threads diluted in 1/4 cup hot water
- 1/2 cup black or golden raisins
- 1 cup pitted dates, split in half or coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup blanched almonds,
- Wash and drain the rice.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of butter or oil in a skillet, and fry onion until golden.
Add meat and saute, stirring and turning the pieces, until browned all over. Cover
with water, add salt and pepper to taste, cinnamon and allspice, and simmer for
1 hour, or until meat is tender and liquid is absorbed.
- Boil lentils in water for about 20 minutes, until done, adding salt when they
begin to soften. Then drain.
- Boil rice in a heavy-bottom, preferably nonstick pan for 10 minutes, until not
quite tender and still a little underdone. Drain rice. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter
or oil in bottom of the pan, then stir in 2 tablespoons of saffron water and about
a third of the rice.
- Spread half the meat on top, then sprinkle on half the lentils, raisins, dates
and almonds, if using. Cover with a layer of another third of the rice and remaining
meat, lentils, raisins and dates, and finish with rice that is left. Melt remaining
butter, stir in remaining saffron water, and pour all over. Cook, uncovered, on
very low heat for 20 to 30 minutes.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
* This dish can also be made with chicken.
The eggplants in this spicy Moroccan salad are boiled, not fried, so it is not
oily. It is best made several hours in advance so the flavors have time to penetrate.