In a skillet in 1 tsp oil (or butter) saute the cumin, bay leaf, cloves, cardamom, garlic, chillies, ginger along with onion and salt.
Once the onions get soft add the tomato along with turmeric and garam masala. Saute for another 1-2 minutes.
Add the lentils and rice. Give it a mix and saute for another min or two until the rice gets aromatic/translucent.
Add the coconut milk/water/stock. Mix well.
Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
Fluff it gently. I sometimes add frozen peas to this mix too towards the end of cooking. You can add more vegetables if you want to.
Now to add some color and more flavor. Garnish it with spring onions and cilantro. Even mint leaves go v well with this. I squeeze some lemon to this rice for couple of reasons. Of course for the flavor. It also helps to reduce the sodium level and third – most importantly – the citrus helps to absorb the iron present in the lentils. So whenever I cook with lentils, I add lemon juice to the dish.
Serve hot with any side dish of your choice. A few drops of ghee optionally adds amazing flavor to this rice.