Bell Peppers Stuffed with Brown Rice and Lentils

It seems as though just about every culture has a version of stuffed peppers. Here I combine Indian and Persian approaches to the dish for a hearty, and healthy, vegetarian meal. In some recipes the rice is only partially cooked before stuffing then finished with the peppers. I prefer to err on the side of tender rice by cooking it thoroughly first.

Ingredients

2 large bell peppers, red or green

½ cup brown basmati or long grain rice

¼ cup green lentils

1 Tbsp. olive oil

¼ cup finely chopped onion

2 Tbsp. finely chopped carrot (a brunoise would be perfect)

2 Tbsp. finely chopped celery

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. garam masala

1½ cups water, stock, or a combination of the two

¼ cup golden raisins

Plain yoghurt, to serve

Method

Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds and rib. If need be, shave a bit off the bottom of the peppers so that they stand upright.

 Rinse the rice and soak in cold water for about 30 minutes (you can skip this step to save time). Rinse the lentils and pick over for any small stones.

Heat the oil in saucepan over medium and sauté the onion, carrots, and celery until the onion starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Put the drained rice into the pan and fry for about 2 minutes.  Add the lentils, water or stock, turmeric, and garam masala. Stir and bring to a boil then turn the heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes until the rice is nearly done. Mix in the raisins and continue to simmer over very low heat until the liquid is absorbed. Allow to cool a bit.

Fill the peppers with the rice mixture. Add 2 Tbsp. water to each one. I like to top them with a garnish, say a bit of chili relish, but that is optional. Bake in a 350° oven (325° for convection) for about 30 minutes. Serve with a bit of plain yoghurt.

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