Stuck-Pot Rice with Lentils and Yogurt
Serves 4 generously (a main dish) and 6 as a side
1 cup brown or green lentils, washed and picked over
1 1/2 cups white basmati rice, rinsed well
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup plain yogurt, preferably whole-milk though low-fat will work, plus additional for serving
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus additional lemon wedges for serving
1/3 cup water [edited] 2 teaspoons ground cumin
Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes
Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, cilantro or mint for garnish (optional)
Bring a medium-sized heavy pot with a tight fitting lid (so you can use one pot for all the steps) of salted water to a boil. Add lentils and boil for 5 minutes, then add rice boil for 5 minutes more, without stirring. Drain mixture and transfer to a large bowl.
Heat the same pot over medium-high heat. Once heated, add 2 tablespoons oil; one oil is warm, add onions and a couple pinches of salt and cover with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized and brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Add onions to bowl with rice and lentils. Stir in yogurt, lemon juice, water , cumin and pepper, plus additional salt to taste.
Heat pot again over medium-high heat. Once fully hot, add remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Once that is hot, return rice mixture to pot, pressing it in. (It will sizzle.) Wrap clean kitchen towel around lid of pot so it completely covers inside of lid; gather corners on top so they do not fall anywhere near stove. Place lid on pot, sealing tightly. Reduce heat to very low. Cook undisturbed about 30 minutes; rice should smell toasty but not burned and you might need to check on it once or twice if you’re making it for the first time. Remove from heat, and let sit 5 minutes more.
Carefully remove lid and cloth, and turn pot upside down over a platter. If rice comes out in a single crust, terrific. If not, use a spatula to scrape crisp pieces out of pan and onto remaining rice. Garnish with chopped parsley and cilantro, and serve with lemon wedges and additional plain yogurt.