It is my understanding that Jamaican food can be very hot. This dish is somewhat spicy, but there’s plenty of room for more heat, if that’s to your taste. My sons always add more pepper when I serve this. Or, if you prefer your food mild, you can reduce or even eliminate the peppers.
But if you’re in a hurry, you can cut the cooking time in half by using a pressure cooker to cook this meal. I cover the use of a pressure cooker - one of the kitchen "gadgets" I recommend owning - in a blog you'll find here. Or you can also get it started early in the day in a slow cooker with an automatic setting so that it’s ready for you at the end of your busy day.
Just as a side note, I use frozen orange juice concentrate to get that citrusy flavor. I do not bother to thaw the juice before using it, but simply scoop out what I need from the can. I then re-cover the rest, place the can in a sealed plastic bag, and return it to the freezer to keep until the next time I need it.
As for cost, lentils are among the cheapest foods going. This meal is a bargain at under $1 per serving. Even with my usual recommendation of a tossed, green salad, it still comes in at under $1.50.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes 8 hearty servings
Prep Time – Approx. 15 minutes
Start to Finish Time – Approx. 75 minutes
Total recipe cost – Approx. $6.00
Total per person meal cost withtossed salad – Approx. $1.25-$1.50
1½-2 cups uncooked brown rice
OR 4-6 cups cooked brown rice
1½ cups lentils
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 large onion
5 large carrots
2-4 cloves garlic
1 28-32 ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 tablespoons (¼ cup) frozen orange juice concentrate (no need to thaw, just scoop it out of the can and then store the rest for later use)
1-1½ teaspoons salt
3½ cups water
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
Recipe continues after photos.
- If using uncooked rice, put 4 cups of water and 2 cups of rice in a 4-6 quart pot with a little salt. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and allow to simmer for about 35 minutes, or until rice is tender, but not mushy. Remove it from the heat and keep it covered until you’re ready to serve.
- Wash the 1 1/2 cups of lentils in a colander and allow them to drain.
- Peel and dice the large onion and set it aside.
- Wash and scrub or peel the 5 carrots and remove the ends. Cut them lengthwise in half. Cut the halves into half moon pieces about ¼- inch thick. Set them aside with the onions.
- Peel and chop the 2-4 cloves of garlic. Set them aside, separate from the onions and carrots.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the onions and carrots, and cook for 6-8 minutes, until the onions are beginning to be translucent. Stir frequently.
- Add the garlic and cook an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Stir in all the remaining ingredients, except the rice (28-32 ounce can of tomatoes, 1½ cups of lentils, 3½ cups of water, 1-1 ½ teaspoon salt, 4 tablespoons (¼ cup) frozen orange juice concentrate, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, ¾ teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon black pepper, ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, and ½ teaspoon red pepper).
- Heat the contents of the pot to boiling over high heat, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce the heat to medium or low to maintain a steady simmer. Simmer, covered, for 50-60 minutes, or until the lentils are tender, but not mushy. Add cooking time in 5 minute increments, if needed, and adjust liquid levels if necessary by stirring water into the lentils in ½ cup increments.
- Serve the lentils over the rice, withtossed salad on the side.