This lentil and rice porridge / soup is one of my favorite dishes at the moment. It is so simple and pure, but incredibly comforting. I discovered it recently through family members and have been making it ever since. Msalwa’a, as some know it by, is one of those humble Palestinian comfort foods meant to keep you satisfied during the winter months. Surely, there are variations of it around the world. We all have those soups and stews that make us feel cared for, and this is one of mine.
Tender and hearty lentils combined with light basmati and spices make for a soul-pleasing bowl. Plenty of turmeric and cumin boost its feel-good properties. I also like this soup on the thicker side. Feel free to make it thinner or thicker in consistency by using more or less broth. Finish off with fresh lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, green onion, and a generous bunch of cilantro. And finally, enjoy your moment of calm.
INGREDIENTS/ SERVES 4
2 cups/ 340 gr. split red (orange) lentils
1 cup/ 200 gr. basmati rice
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions or 1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely diced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
9-10 cups/ about 2 liters boiling vegetable or chicken stock*, as needed
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper
2 handfuls fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 medium lemon
Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear and then leave to soak in a bowl full of water for about 1 hour. Do the same with the basmati rice. Drain the lentils and rice and set aside.
Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil and onions. Sprinkle a bit of salt over the onions to release its juices. Sauté for about 10 minutes or until the onion is soft and transparent. Add the diced carrots, garlic, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Stir in the drained lentils and stir for another 2-3 minutes. Add 9 cups of the broth (preserving one for later if needed), season with salt and freshly ground pepper, increase the heat to high, bring to simmer, cover, and reduce the heat to a medium-low. Cook the lentils for about 20 minutes or until extra tender.
Once the lentils are tender, stir in the drained basmati rice, cover, and cook for another 8-10 minutes or just until the rice is cooked, but still has a bite to it. At this point, taste for salt, check the consistency, and adjust to your liking by adding more hot broth if needed. Stir in chopped cilantro and lemon juice.
Enjoy right away and top with extra cilantro, green onion, olive oil, yogurt, chili flakes, etc.
*Using water in place of stock will result in less flavor, but if possible, add a cube of organic vegetable stock to the boiling water for more taste.