Because no single way of eating works for everybody.
Did the ancient Egyptians eat rice? Probably not – rice cultivation, it seems, wasn’t likely introduced there until the 7th century AD. The certainly ate lentils, though; there’s evidence in tomb pictures of servants preparing lentils, even for their kings. And humans were eating lentils long before Pharaohs; this article on early lentil history mentions that lentils from 12,000 years ago, in the Paleolithic period, have been discovered by archaeologists in southern Greece and on the banks of the River Euphrates.
Modern Egyptians eat a lot of rice in addition to lentils, and the two go beautifully together. While Rameses and Tutankhamun never had the chance to taste the combination, today’s ordinary citizens of Egypt eat it often. And why not? It’s delicious.
If you eat a strict paleo diet, you probably won’t read any farther, because this recipe is pretty much the opposite of what works for you. But if you sometimes do indulge in grains and legumes, this is a dish you’ll enjoy. It’s easy, cheap, nutritious, and sings with Near-Eastern-style flavour. And it’ll go perfectly on your table If you’re vegetarian or vegan, too.
The recipe is one I picked up in 2001, from somewhere on the Internet, and adapted to my own taste; I’ve seen versions of the original reproduced in a number of places. It uses a slow-cooker, but you could do it in a slow-simmering pot on the stove as well. And if you want some meat with it, you could certainly add some chopped chicken.
Egyptian Style Lentils and Rice
1 cup brown or green lentils, washed and picked over for stones
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 or 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 to 6 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, if desired
1/2 cup rice of your choice
5 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
1. Turn the slow-cooker on high. Add onions, garlic, and olive oil, and warm for 15 minutes.
2. Add remaining ingredients, including cups of the stock, and stir to combine well.
3. Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until done to your satisfaction. If dish is dryer than you’d like, add some more stock; if too wet, remove lid and allow to cook uncovered for a bit.
4. Serve and enjoy.