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Lentil Very Brown Rice

Lentil very brown rice ~~ there’s no better name for this combo of humble lentil and venerable grain. The lentils color the rice “very brown”, the tiny beans pump up the protein, vitamins and minerals, and brown rice gets a total rustic flavor upgrade.

Lentil Very Brown Rice

Click here to PIN Lentil Very Brown Rice recipe.

Very brown rice is is my absolute favorite 4-ingredient comfort food side dish. I eat it right out of the pot before it even gets near the dinner table. So addicting. Robbie doesn’t know about my sneaky spoonfuls. Don’t tell him, ok?

Very brown rice is different than cooking rice and lentils separately and stirring them together at the end. When you cook them together in the same pot, the lentils marry the rice ~~ lentil very brown rice.

Sauté the rice in oil, until it crackles and browns, before adding the water and lentils. I used to skip that step, and my very brown rice came out mushy. It didn’t really bother me; the flavor is so enjoyable. Lesson learned, for perfect texture, sauté rice first.

It would have been wordy and it sounds kinda funny to call it lentil and mung bean very brown rice, right? Truth is, two kinds of little beans enrich lentil very brown rice. Itsy bitsy round green mung beans have a sweeter flavor than green lentils—so it’s a nice balance. The original recipe calls for “dry mixed small beans, such as mung, split peas, red or lentils.” Bottom line, use any small bean you wish.

I cook this favorite so often that my copy of Ellen Buchman Ewald’s Recipes for a Small Planet is sadly worn and torn, particularly the page for Very Brown Rice. Here’s my adaptation of the recipe, so we can reference it from anywhere in the world, and give my little old treasured cookbook a rest.

This is International Year of Pulses, and I’m doing my part to get the word out. Legumes, lentils, chickpeas, and beans–be on the lookout for recipes showcasing pulses throughout the year. Did you catch my potato and bean tacos last month?

Lentil very brown rice recipe details:

  • For shorter cooking time, cook very brown rice in a pressure cooker. That’s 35 minutes max; 10 minutes to bring to pressure, 15 minutes at pressure, and 10 minutes for natural pressure release. See recipe notes for regular cooking.
  • Lentils and mung beans are my favorites, though any mix of dry small beans, including split peas and red beans, makes “very brown” rice.
  • Pressure cookers are wonderful time-saving kitchen essentials. I love my stovetop stainless steel Kuhn Rikon. These days many cooks favor electric pressure cookers.
  • You might also enjoy this recipe for brown rice and quinoa with leafy Chinese tofu.

Wishing you a fabulous day–get in the kitchen and cook something delicious!

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Lentil Very Brown Rice
Lentil Very Brown Rice
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins

What a healthy duo! For rave reviews, serve lentil very brown rice as a bed under your favorite veggie stir-fry. Makes about 3 1/2 cups rice.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 7 1/2 cup servings.
Author: Letty Flatt | Letty's Kitchen
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 ½ cups long grain brown rice (see note)
  • 3 1/3 cups water, for pressure cooking. (Increase water to 4 ½ cups for regular cooking (see note)
  • 1/2 cup dry green lentils and/or mung beans
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  1. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker or large saucepan. Add the rice and sauté until it crackles and browns lightly, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the water, dry beans and salt. Pressure cook for 15 minutes. (For regular cooking, see notes.)
  2. Let the pressure come down naturally, which takes about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Recipe Notes
  • I use long-grain organic brown basmati rice.
  • To cook lentil very brown rice without a pressure cooker, soak the lentils and mung beans for about an hour beforehand. Add the soaked beans to the sautéed rice along with the water and salt. Cook on low flame, without stirring, until the rice and beans are tender, about an hour. You may need to add more water for regular cooking.


  • I had to look up the word “pulses”! Shame on me… I thought I knew all the beany words.

    Pulse: from the Latin puls meaning thick soup or potage.

    GREG Reply · 29 February, 2016

    • yeah Greg–I learned the word from Canadian lentils. Year of the Pulse 2016. Reply · 5 March, 2016

  • What a great way to add some protein to a meal. I’ll have to give this a try. Reply · 5 March, 2016

    • Thanks Barbara–especially in a pressure cooker. Reply · 5 March, 2016

  • Diane

    I did it in my pressure cooker and it can out great1 Thanks Letty. Reply · 15 March, 2016

    • Love to hear that Diane! Reply · 16 March, 2016

  • KnowWhentoFold

    I’ve made this recipe and variations since the 80’s. Other legumes, such as chick peas, black Eyed Peas, and white beans go great, if using a pressure cooker. I also love brown sweet rice aka glutinous rice in this recipe. Reply · 14 June, 2016

    • Yes, It’s such a fabulous recipe and as you say–very adaptable! Reply · 14 June, 2016

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