The great thing about congee is that, once you have perfected the cooking method, it can be made with a wide range of lentils, beans, grains and rice. Rice congee is the most well-known, but congees can be made from rice mixed with other grains, beans and lentils, or made without rice at all.
Today we made a clean-out-the-pantry congee, and it is delicious. It was made with lentils, burghul, millet and rice. In the photo it is topped with roasted cauliflower, green herby sauce, herbs, roasted cauliflower leaves, sesame oil and pickles. But you can top your congee with whatever your heart desires. That is the beauty of congee.
Remember to cook congee on the lowest possible heat, so it is barely simmering. Use a heat diffuser, especially for the second half of cooking, otherwise it may stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. I prefer to cook it in a Chinese clay pot – I believe the flavour is superior, and I keep my pot for congee only.
Rice, Millet, Lentil and Burghul Congee
0.25 cup millet
0.25 cup burghul
0.25 cup yellow lentils
0.5 cup short grain rice
5 cups water
few curry leaves
1 black cardamom
0.5 – 0.75 tspn turmeric powder
1 – 2 finely chopped tomatoes
toppings (choose your combination, or use other toppings)
Chinese Black and/or Red Vinegar
pickled ginger slices
crispy garlic slices
crispy ginger slices
crispy fried onions
unsalted peanuts (raw peanuts are best)
slices of young ginger
sliced spring onions
fresh chillies sliced
dried shiitake mushrooms, sliced
or top like I did today with roasted cauliflower, green herby sauce, herbs, roasted cauliflower leaves, sesame oil and pickles.
Rinse the grains and lentils, and place in a large saucepan or clay/terracotta pot suitable for the stove top. Add any or none of the optional flavourings. Add 5 cups water and cover with the lid.
Place over your lowest heat (use a heat diffuser if necessary,especially in the second half of cooking) and cook on low for 4 – 6 hours until a porridge like consistency. Top up the water as necessary. Stir every 20 – 30 mins, to prevent sticking.
It can also be cooked in a 100C oven for 8 hours or overnight.
Season with salt and white pepper, stir through chopped herbs if desired, and top with many or none of the suggested toppings. Serve with Indian or Asian pickles and a fresh salad.