According this cool book about the history of Indian food that I’ve been reading, Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, by Lizzie Collingham; pulao, pilaf, pilau and paella are essentially the same term for Eurasian rice dishes from India to the Iberian peninsula. Steven and I had a big discussion about it over Shirazi baked polow.
Since the terms are “generic” in the sense that they simply mean rice dishes, why not create your own version of a pilaf, polow or paella? That’s how I arrived at this recipe. I adore olives and red lentil dal, though I cannot really recall having them together before, can you? To me, the dish is sort of pan-Eurasian, embracing India on one side and Spain and Portugal on the other.
The lentils dissolve while cooking and, with the tomato paste, give the dish an exciting orange-ish red color with a pleasing earthy flavor. The olives are salty and briny, which I think works great. The result is fabulous, nutritious, tastes great and is so easy to make.
weirdcombos-style Red Lentil Dal & Olive Pilaf
1 cup rinsed basmati rice
1 cup rinsed red lentils
1 shallot, minced
1 bay leaf
1 whole clove garlic
1 tbsp tomato paste
1¾ cup hot water
4 tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup pitted, halved kalamata and Spanish olives
Using a deep pan, sauté shallot in 2 tablespoons olive oil until translucent. Add garlic, rice, red lentil and salt to taste and continue sautéing to coat everything with oil. Meanwhile dissolve tomato paste in hot water and add to rice mix. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover pan and let it cook for about 15 minutes, stirring a few times to prevent sticking. Remove from heat and let it rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Just before serving toss olives in and mix to combine. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Top with freshly ground black pepper to taste and serve.