Armenian-inspired Lentils and Rice

This was based on both my sister Carol's Armenian Lentil Soup (itself adapted from New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, by the Moosewood Collective) and Armenian Lentils from Lorna Sass' Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure, because I needed to bring something to a potluck without time to shop first

1 large or two small onions, chopped
2 T oil

4 C vegetable stock

1 1/2 C dried lentils
14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes (or about 1 1/2 cups chopped ripe fresh tomatoes)
1/2 C dried apricots, chopped

1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground coriander seed*
1 teaspoon ground cumin*
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 bay leaves
few threads of saffron (optional)
about a tablespoon of ground chili, mixing hot and mild to your taste**

1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
juice of 1 lemon

Pick over lentils to remove any rocks etc, rinse, and set aside.

Saute the chopped onions in the oil over high heat to brown their edges a bit.
Add the stock, apricots, lentils, tomatoes, spices, and rinse the tomato can with about 1/2 cup water and add to the lentils. 

If using a pressure cooker, bring o 15lbs pressure and cook about 9 minutes, then turn off the heat and let temp come down naturally. 

If cooking conventionally, bring to a boil and then drop to a simmer, and cook about 45 minutes, and test some lentils for doneness.  Simmer longer if they are still undercooked.  When the lentils are done, add the salt, black pepper if desired, and lemon juice; remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick (if using this instead of ground cinnamon).  Stir and serve over rice.

*I start with whole spices and grind the whole spices with the already powdered spices in a coffee-grinder style spice mill until smoothly powdered

**I used about 3/4 teaspoon hot chili, 2 teaspoons mild chili or paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of urfah flakes, and a pinch of smoked paprika.  You could also use dried chilis, your preferred mix of smokes chipotles, anchos or pasillas, mildest Anaheims, New Mexicans or cascabels, toasting, seeding, and chopping them or zapping them in the spice mill as above; or fresh chilis, again to your taste.

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