The third time is the charm. At least the most charming this dish is ever going to get, I guess. It's the return of the infamous Brown Rice with Curried Lentils, but with a twist.
The twist is not evident, at least not in the photo, but it's a little more visible in the flesh, so to speak. And if you click on the picture, enlarge it, and look closely enough, you can just make out the little bits of red from the stems of the Swiss chard. The Swiss chard has been looking quite lovely at the store, so I have been bringing it home with me on a somewhat regular basis.
I have been on a baking kick these past few months - cookies, pizza, bread, and cakes. Some of it you've seen, some you will see soon. Because of that, my healthy eating has been suffering somewhat, and I haven't been as creative in that area as I usually am. I am also in a mood for comfort foods, or at least familiar foods, so I am making a lot of dishes about which I have already posted, and I don't think there's much need for me to re-post a recipe, even if I have made changes.
But there are a few things about this recipe that prompted me both to make it, and to write about it again. The first is that it is a really tasty recipe, even though it really does not photograph well. In all honesty, it doesn't look all that great in person (although it is not nearly as bad as the photo), but it is really delicious and quite good for you, what with the brown rice and lentils and spinach and all.
The next reason is that Swiss chard makes an excellent substitution for the spinach, and adds much needed color. You can use the same recipe, just separate the leafy part of the chard from the stems, chop up the stems and saute them along with with the onion and celery, and then add the leaves when you would add the spinach. It's as good as, if not better than, the spinach.
Third reason: even though the spices seem more appropriate to Indian food, the base is very similar to a Middle Eastern dish called Mujadara, and someone on a news group suggested making it in honor of Egypt's new-found voyage towards democracy. Mujadara is basically rice cooked with lentils and topped with caramelized onions (which has just given me A VERY GOOD IDEA for this dish!). I already make a version of it called Imjadara (Which I posted about here), that uses bulgur and which I absolutely love.
The final reason I am posting about this dish again is more because of the posting than the dish itself. Specifically, it revolves around attribution and plagiarism. When I first wrote about this recipe, I had just stumbled across a website that had over 200,000 recipes posted on it, from all over the world. It was a wonderful database. You could search by location or by ingredient. I found several good recipes there, and posted about a few. I was very careful to attribute the site, as I try to reference all of my sources.
And then I found a recipe that seemed awfully familiar to me. I no longer remember what it was, but at the time I went to the copy of the recipe that I had and it was, indeed, identical. I'm a little chagrined that I hadn't thought about this sooner, but I began to wonder from exactly where this web site was getting its recipes. I went back to the recipe and saw no reference whatsoever as to the original source. Then I started noticing that the wording of a lot of the recipes was personal, and chatty, and that maybe they were coming from different places. And it started to look like maybe this site was just pulling recipes from all over the internet without indicating their source.
So I sent them an email asking them where they got their recipes. I never heard back. So I stopped using them, and I stopped citing them. (It looks like they are no longer around, so maybe I'm not the only one who finally noticed what they were doing.) And eventually forgot about it.
Until I decided to make this recipe again, and saw that the only source of which I knew was the site where I had originally found it. So I did a little searching on the internet and discovered that the recipe actually came from a book called Pilaf, Risotto, and Other Ways with Rice by Sada Fretz (Little Brown, 1995). I think it is out of print, although I did find used copies available at Alibris and other websites.
It's a small thing, but I feel a little better.