Lentils are fashionable. So are dried beans and peas. They are also inexpensive. So what was once simply cheap is now cheap and chic.

The problem with green and yellow lentils is that it takes longer than 20 minutes to cook them. Red lentils solve the problem. They cook in about 10 minutes. But they must be watched carefully because it is no more than a few seconds between cooked red lentils and mushy red lentils.This recipe with its Indian accent can be made with any assortment of vegetables that appeals to you. If you prefer you can stir the rice into the lentil mixture before serving. Either way the results are fragrant and full of flavor.

Look for lentils in health-food stores or Indian markets and keep them on hand.

GAME PLAN

- Cook rice.

- Follow directions for lentils.

NUTRITIONAL ANALYSIS:

Per serving: 545 calories, 7 grams fat, less than 1 milligram cholesterol, 100 milligrams sodium, 29 grams protein, 96 grams carbohydrate.

FROM YOUR PANTRY

8 ounces red lentils

Minced garlic in oil

Olive oil

Cumin

Coriander

Cinnamon

No-salt-added tomato puree

Whole black pepper

Non-fat plain yogurt

Long-grain rice

SHOPPING LIST

8 ounces whole onion or 7 ounces sliced (ready-cut)

8 ounces whole carrots or 7 ounces sliced (ready-cut)

9 ounces whole green pepper or 8 ounces sliced (ready-cut)

1 bunch celery (1 stalk) or 2 ounces sliced (ready-cut)

1991 by Foxcraft, Ltd.

Excerpted from "20-Minute Menus," by

Marian Burros (Reprinted by permission

of Simon and Schuster; distributed by

Special Features/Syndication Sales)

Lentils with Vegetables

8 ounces (1 heaping cup) red lentils

8 ounces whole onion or 7 ounces sliced (ready-cut) (12/3 cups)

8 ounces whole carrots or 7 ounces sliced (ready-cut) (11/3 cups)

9 ounces whole green pepper or 8 ounces sliced (ready-cut) (13/4 cups)

1 stalk celery or 2 ounces sliced (ready-cut)

1 teaspoon minced garlic in oil

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup water

1 cup no-salt-added tomato puree

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt\ In covered pot bring lentils to boil in plenty of water to cover. Cook about 10 minutes, until soft.

Cut onion into quarters; scrape whole carrots; trim and seed green pepper; wash and trim celery stalk.

Using the regular slicing blade of a food processor, process onion, carrots, green pepper and celery.

Heat oil in large non-stick pan and saute vegetables until they begin to soften.

Add the cumin, coriander and cinnamon and stir well. Stir in water and tomato puree; cover and simmer mixture until it is tender.

As soon as lentils are cooked, drain well and stir the lentils into the vegetable mixture; season with pepper. (If mixture dries out, add additional water.)

Serve over rice (or mixed with the rice) with yogurt on the side.

Serves three.

Rice

3/4 cup long-grain rice

11/2 cup water Place rice and water in heavy-bottomed pot; bring to boil.

Reduce heat, cover and cook for a total of 17 minutes, until water has been absorbed and rice is tender. Serves three.