Rice and Green Lentils in Coconut Milk

Rice and Green Lentils in Coconut Milk

Once again I have consulted my copy of World Vegetarian Classics by Celia Brooks Brown. Forgoing the simple task of deciding on a bean and soaking it the night before, I was focused on split dals and legumes, and a grain to balance it all out. This one pot creamy rice and lentil dish from Tanzania turned out to be the perfect mid-week meal solution. Like the split pea cilantro dumplings in a coconut curry I made recently, this recipe comes from the chapter on dishes from Central, East and Southern Africa. Much like a khichari in texture and spicing, the Indian influence in the Eastern region of Africa shines out here. I modified the recipe to suit my spicy tastes.

Rice and Green Lentils Cooked in Coconut MilkRice and Green Lentils Cooked in Coconut Milk
Recipe by
Adapted from World Vegetarian Classics: Over 200 Essential International Recipes for the Modern Kitchen
Cuisine: Tanzanian
Published on November 2, 2008

Simple, hearty and nourishing one-pot meal of lentils and rice simmered in a creamy Tanzanian-Indian coconut milk and spice blend

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 to 55 minutes

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  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 fresh red chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cup green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup brown basmati rice, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 14 oz (400 mL) can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring often, until it begins to brown. Now add the garlic, ginger and chilies, and continue to stir for 1 minute.

  • Toss in the spices, stir a few times. and then stir in the lentils and rice. Pour in the water and coconut milk and add the salt. Stir to combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook without stirring for 40 to 50 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the lentils are soft and tender. Check the dish periodically in case you need to add more water.

Makes 4 main servings

Other African dishes you might like:
Northeast African Millet Patties
Nigerian Baked Beans
African Bean and Peanut Soup
Ethiopian Lentil & Mustard Salad (Azefa)
Harira (Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil Stew)


Anonymous said...

My much awaited copy is currently in the post, I am told. Wish it would arrive more quickly.

Dana Treat said...

I had the good fortune to take a couple of classes with Celia Brooks Brown when my husband and I lived in a London a few years ago. She is charming in person and a great teacher. I realize I need this book!

Anonymous said...

My first time here.. what a nice place..

This is a really interesting recipe. saved it.

Vijitha said...

Gravy looks perfect! looks delicious!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

there is something so sensual about the lentil and coconut combination! i like this version too - my version uses red lentils. but i see we can use just about any kind! lovely flavorful dish lisa!

Sangeeth said...

yummy gravy...lentil and coconut makes me go glutton!

TBC said...

I had the same combination(rice and green lentils) for dinner yesterday! I'd made a khichdi which was so similar to this one except that that recipe does not call for coconut milk.
It's amazing to see the similarities between Indian and African cuisines.

Anonymous said...

Very tasty indeed, and it looks just like the photo! In our oil-conscious household I halved the sesame oil and coconut milk, but it was still delicious. And I am now in my wife's good books for having discovered a delicious new one-pot meal. Thanks!

Chef Jeena said...

This is really tasty I so love coconut and spices.

test it comm said...

This sounds healthy and tasty! I have been looking for interesting lentil recipes.

Anonymous said...

fantastic recipe, lisa!
gosh, i really need to get that book! :)

does it say which country the recipe comes from?

Anonymous said...

Hi - just wanted to say thank you for this. I printed it off as soon as I saw it but didn't get round to making it until a couple of days ago. An absolute hit and definitely on the regular menu now and for the rest of my life! Could there be a more comforting comfort food? Thanks again.

Cate said...

oh, this looks good. and easy. and spicy. and with coconut milk. sign me up!

Anonymous said...

I made this first because coconut milk and lentils were two of the few things left in our pantry and I didn't want to go grocery shopping... but WOW! It was so delicious I made it for Thanksgiving at both of my grandparents' homes, and it was an immediate hit with my spice-loving relatives. And so easy! Thanks!