2 cups basmati or other long grained non-sticky rice (rinsed and drained twice)
1 cup whole brown lentils (called masoor in India) or any drained, canned variety.
2 large ripe tomatoes chopped or ½ can chopped peeled tomatoes
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped then blenderized
1 medium onion, chopped then blenderized.
1 medium potato, cubed
1 teaspoon mild chili powder (optional)
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder (optional)
1 teaspoon coriander powder (optional)
½ teaspoon curry powder
3-4 pepper corns
1 inch piece cinnamon
1 dry bay leaf (optional)
For the fried potato:In a fry pan, pour 2 tablespoon oil and when hot, add the potato cubes. Salt it. On a medium flame, let the potatoes cook and fry, turning occasionally so that all sides are browned. This will take around 15-20 min. Test for tenderness with a fork. Keep aside.
For the lentils:In the meantime, cook lentils in plenty of water until softened but not mushy. This will take around 45 min. Drain excess water.
Then heat up another fry pan and put 3 tablespoons of oil in it. Add the whole spices (pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf) and when fragrant (20 seconds) add the onion-garlic paste and fry till light brown. Then add the spice powders (chili, turmeric, curry, cumin and coriander). When fragrant (20 seconds), add the finely chopped tomatoes and cooked lentils. Add salt to taste.
Heat thru and add a little water (max.1/4 cup) if looking too dry. Let it come to a boil and take off heat.
For rice:In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil 4 cups of water. Add the washe'd rice and let cook on a low flame until ¾ cooked (al dente) around 7-10 minutes. Drain any remaining water and spread it out onto a large platter to cool.
To assemble:In a large saucepan, put the lentil mixture. Top with the potatoes. Top with the rice. Put the entire thing back on the stove on the lowest heat setting for 15 minutes.