This is a comfort-food that is an adaptation of a Sara Moulton recipe. Basmati rice with the added flavors of whole spices toasted in oil, with lentils and potatoes. A bit of work, but well worth the effort.
Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, bay leaf, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chiles, and cloves and then cook for about a minute while stirring, until the spices become fragrant. Take the spices out of the pot and reserve. Turn the heat down to med-low and add the onion to the pan. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, stirring once and a while, and then take the pot off the heat and set aside.
Rinse the rice in a colander. Once the rice is rinsed and drained, add it to the onion in the saucepan and put in the reserved spices and add the turmeric and cook over med-heat, stirring, for about 1 minute.
Add in 1 1/2 C water and 1/2 t salt to the mixture and bring it all to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan with a paper towel and then the lid. Let this simmer this way, over low heat, for approx.20 minutes, or until all the liquid has been soaked up. Take the pan off of the heat and set aside, leaving it covered, for approximately 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the lentils, 2 C water and 1/2 t salt in a different saucepan and bring it to a boil over high heat. Then put a lif on it and simmer, over low heat. for approximately 25 minutes (until the lentils get tender).
Now, heat the remaining 2 T vegetable oil, over medium heat, in a large nonstick skillet. Add in the potatoes and cook for approx 10 or 12 minutes, until the potatoes get a bit browned (stirring occasionally). Take the heat down to low and cook for about 5 minutes more. Then you can add the carrots to the potatoes and cook for 3 more minutes, or just until both are tender.
Next, you can fluff the rice with a fork and take out the bay leaf, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves and chiles. Then drain your lentils and stir them into the rice along with the potato mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy.