Millet is an ancient and highly nutritious grain that needs very little water to grow. It really should become a pantry staple; it’s easy to prepare and can be used in both savory and sweet preparations. In India, millet is used to make flatbreads and pilafs. This simple, one-pot meal features millet cooked with lentils and topped with strips of fried ginger and crunchy seared peanuts.
[Ed. Note: Recipe creator Nik Sharma talks about multicultural influence on his food in this interview.]
1/2 cup [110 g] pearl millet
1/4 cup [50 g] red lentils, picked over for stones
1 1/2 cups [360 ml] water
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup [70 g] finely diced red onion
2 Tbsp peanuts
One 2 in [5 cm] piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 lime, halved
6 fresh mint leaves
Rinse the millet and lentils in a fine-mesh strainer under cold running water until the runoff is no longer cloudy. Put them in a medium saucepan and add the 1 1/2 cups [360 ml] water, 1/2 tsp of the salt, and 1 Tbsp of the oil. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and turn the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until both the millet and the lentils are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Most of the water should have evaporated. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes longer. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
In a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the peanuts and cook until seared, 4 to 5 minutes more. Add the ginger and pepper and cook for an additional minute, until the ginger is lightly browned. Season with the remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.
Divide the cooked lentil and millet between two bowls. Top each one with half the onion-ginger-peanut mixture. Squeeze a lime half over each bowl, garnish with the mint, and serve immediately.
I cook the lentils and millet together and season them minimally with salt so their nutty flavor and texture stand out. The topping of onions, ginger, peanuts, and a squirt of fresh lime juice provides a spicy and tangy counterpoint. Frying the ginger reduces its intensity and helps flavor the oil.
Reprinted from Season by Nik Sharma with permission by Chronicle Books, 2018
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