Khichdi (Bengali Rice and Lentils)

For the khichdi:

1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice
1 cup yellow lentil (mung dal)
1 1/2 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee)
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2-inch piece ginger, thinly sliced
12 to 15 green beans, trimmed and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1 green chile, seeded and finely chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground chili powder
Salt, to taste
10 cups water
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, for garnishing

For the potato fries:

1 pound baby potatoes, cut into small cubes
Salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground chili powder
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Place the rice in a colander and rinse it under running water. Then add it to a bowl and cover it with water so that it soaks while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a non-stick skillet, over medium heat, toast the yellow lentils. Stir for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the color turns light golden brown and releases a nice aroma. Transfer to a strainer and wash thoroughly under running water. Set it aside.

In a heavy-bottom soup pot, over medium-high heat, heat clarified butter. Once hot, add cumin seeds and bay leaf and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until they start to splutter.

Add sliced onion and ginger and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until onions are softened. Add green beans and carrots and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the vegetables soften.

Add peas, chile, tomato, turmeric, chili powder, and salt and cook over medium-low heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until tomatoes soften.

Drain the rice, then add it to the pot with the lentils and 10 cups of water. Cover and cook for 18 to 20 minutes, or until soft.

Meanwhile, mix together potato pieces, salt, turmeric, and ground chili powder. In a non-stick skillet, over medium heat, heat vegetable oil. Add potato pieces and cook, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until potatoes soften.

Garnish the khichi with cilantro and serve warm with potato fries on the side.

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