Effortless Curried Rice and Lentils with Veggies (+ Pictures!)

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Both Asians and North Americans love “life hacks”, these silver bullets to make things run smoother. In China, for instance, it translates into manufacturing thousands of products that supposedly help you solve life’s little issues. Chopsticks with a fan to cool off your noodles, slippers that clean the floor, bowls with spoon holders, toothpaste dispenser to stick on the wall, umbrella/tie, etc. Most of these cheap gadgets are fun but rarely practical, although some become best sellers like the famous selfie stick.

In North America, life hacks are usually solutions to maximize your productivity and save money. There are complete websites dedicated to offering simple and effective tips to be a better, healthier and richer person. The articles are backed up with somewhat anecdotal scientific evidence and range from smart practical advice—“put pancake mix in an old ketchup bottle for a no-mess experience”—to painfully obvious recommendations—“lose weight by exercising more and eating less”.

As your typical old-world European, I have nothing against these novelty methods but I remain doubtful most of the time. One-function gizmos tend to reinvent the wheel: for instance, I don’t need a banana slicer when I can 1) peel the banana 2) use a knife. As for general life tips, they are often too generic and commonsensical but not that easy to implement. Yes, I am aware of the fact that it’s better to get a full eight-hour night’s sleep. Yes, I agree, eating out when you are on a budget is probably a bad idea. Yes, to build up your saving account, you need to spend less or work a better paying job. Duh.

But damn… I wish I had believed in the power of the slow cooker earlier.

I had been told it was awesome but for some reason, I thought it would be yet another kitchen appliance I have no use for. I was so wrong.

Since trying it for the first time a few weeks ago, I completely fell in love with this way of cooking. I go through culinary phases so maybe it’s just one of them, but I love both the food I’m able to cook and how much time and energy I save in the process. I don’t have three or four pots and pans on the stove anymore and I don’t have to worry about timing it right. I make enough food for two portions, so I’m only cooking my dinner every couple of days (don’t worry, still feeding Mark his usual…). It feels great to know that yummy food in a glass container in the fridge is ready to be warmed up in the microwave when I’ll be hungry!

I’m experimenting with spices, different kinds of rice, beans, vegetables. I buy small quantities of everything I need from Bulk Barn and it’s cheap—$2, $3 for rice and spices. I wash, chop, cut and prep my vegetables and I enjoy that step. It’s strangely relaxing to mix colours and cutting techniques. Then I dump my food in the slow cook, add spices and let the magic happens.

I’m fine-tuning my cooking skills as well. For example, to avoid mushy rice, I pour it over the veggie mix instead of cooking it at the bottom. I also find I don’t need to leave the slow cooker on all day, two to three hours is enough for my recipes.

Here the last one I came up with:

Curried rice with lentils

  • ½ cup onion
  • ½ cup bell pepper
  • ½ cup carrots
  • 2 cups cauliflower
  • 1 small tomato
  • ½ cup bamboo shoots
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • Garlic
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp chili flakes
  • Salt
Basmati rice

Basmati rice

Orange bell pepper

Orange bell pepper

Chopped onion

Chopped onion

Italian tomato

Italian tomato

Bamboo shoots

Bamboo shoots

Veggies, prepped

Veggies, prepped

One cup lentils

One cup lentils

Curry powder

Curry powder

Chili flakes

Chili flakes

Powdered chili

Powdered chili

Two and a half hours in the slow cooker...

Two and a half hours in the slow cooker…

Magic!

Magic!

Completely posed picture, I didn't eat it standing in front of the fridge

Completely posed picture, I didn’t eat it standing in front of the fridge

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

10 Comments

  1. What, you don’t eat standing in front of the fridge? World collapses 😉
    I totally agree with you regarding the life hacks. It’s funny the North American eagerness to better yourself by following a 10 step method to do something obvious.
    I don’t have a slow cooker but I think you might be convincing me…

    • If you need more convincing, I have another recipe to share, coming up soon. Seriously, it’s awesome, especially for grains and veggies lovers like us 😉

      • Oh bien sur, there are so many. I could recommend some, however let me ask you how do you like flavours in food, hot? aromatic? balanced? strong?

        (last weekend Shikha and I finally nailed the very difficult Butter Chicken and Garlic Naan )

        • There are very few flavours I truly don’t like and I enjoy spicy food, hot, strong. I don’t use much cream (i.e. coconut milk), I’m mostly looking for a mix of spices. Love garlic, curry, cumin, ginger…

          Congrats on the yummy achievement! 😉

          • Well I could suggest you a few things:

            – Drop in a couple of cardamoms (or Star Annis), a couple of bay leaves, some black pepper (to your taste) before you cook your rice and you’ll have quite an aromatic rice to go along with whatever you plan to have

            – Indian Spice Mixes: Well every region in India comes up with their spice mixes for the lazy lads and lasses 🙂 so, for North India, my region, we have what we call Garam Masala, easily available in many shops in Ottawa. Drop half a teaspoon of this mix to rice, while you cook, for some flavor

          • Just bought Garam Masala today in Chinatown, at the Indian store at the corner 😉 Will let you know how it turns out! Well, you probably know, but I will report 🙂

            I had no idea how to use cardamom, so thank you for the idea. I saw it at Bulk Barn.

            How about something spicy? What hot spices do you use in India?

  2. I love this new cooking serious, hope you keep it up! I love to cook and consider myself a foodie, this just adds a totally new dimension to your blog I love it! You also got me all excited to try out the slow cooker myself as I’ve been avoiding getting one thinking it’s probably not worth it… definitely having second thoughts now. Some say rice cooker is also very convenient to have and since we do like our rice a lot I thought it might be worth getting one, any thoughts?

    Anyhow, your food looks delicious, good job!

    • I have to admit that I mostly publish these recipes as a reference for myself 😆 I’m not a great cook, i.e. I rarely completely screw up food but my cooking skills are fairly basic, especially for a French woman. I’m exploring this food category though, with a focus on international food, like local specialties when we travel 🙂

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