Bengali Rice Porridge With Lentils and Chicken Recipe

Bengali Rice Porridge With Lentils and Chicken Recipe

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik]

There are countless variations on rice porridge, with almost as many names. It can be as simple as water and rice, or it can be simmered with milk, flavored with chilies and spices, or topped with different accoutrements. This version, made with aromatic jasmine rice and hearty red lentils, is bright from plenty of turmeric and ginger, with a pungent hit of mustard oil and a garnish of spicy green-chili chutney.

Why It Works

  • Gently crushing the rice yields a mixture of finer pieces, which melt into the porridge, and larger grains that add texture.
  • Adding the potato and chicken after the porridge is partially cooked keeps them tender and distinct.
  • Yield:Serves 4
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time:1 1/2 hours

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup jasmine rice (5 1/3 ounces; 150g)
  • 1 inch fresh turmeric (1/2 ounce; 15g), or 1 teaspoon dried turmeric
  • 1 inch fresh ginger (1/2 ounce; 15g)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee (1 ounce; 30g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 cup red lentils (1.8 ounces; 50g), sorted and rinsed
  • 6 cups chicken stock (1 1/2 quarts; 1.4L), homemade or store-bought
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium russet potato (10 ounces; 280g), peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 chicken thighs (8 ounces; 224g)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro (1 ounce; 30g), finely chopped
  • 2 Thai green chilies, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) freshly squeezed lime juice from 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons mustard oil (1 ounce; 30ml)
  • Crispy fried shallots, for garnish

Directions

  1. 1.

    In a medium bowl, rinse rice with cold water until water runs clear. Cover rice with fresh cold water and set aside to soak.

  2. 2.

    Meanwhile, peel turmeric (if using fresh) and ginger with a spoon. Thinly slice crosswise into 1/8-inch coins and slice each coin into 1/8-inch matchsticks.

  3. 3.

    Drain rice and return to bowl. Gently crush with a muddler, rolling pin, or pestle, breaking rice into uneven pieces ranging from cornmeal-sized grains to larger pieces that are cracked or shattered in half.

  4. 4.

    In a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt butter until foamy. Add turmeric, ginger, and red chili and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add rice, lentils, and chicken stock. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a bare simmer. Simmer porridge, uncovered, until rice and lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

  5. 5.

    Add potato and chicken thighs to porridge. Cook gently until potatoes are tender, chicken is cooked through, and porridge is thickened, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

  6. 6.

    Meanwhile, prepare the cilantro chutney. In a small bowl, mix cilantro and green chilies with lime juice and mustard oil, then season with salt. Stir to combine.

  7. 7.

    Remove chicken from porridge and transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, dice chicken into 1/2-inch pieces and return to porridge. Adjust seasoning to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and add water if porridge becomes too thick.

  8. 8.

    Remove from heat and pour porridge into bowls. Garnish with cilantro chutney and crispy fried shallots to taste.