This dish is a fabulous centerpiece and it goes from pantry to table in about an hour and a half. You gotta love that. With all the stuff that I was preparing for my dinner that night, which I would be doing single-handed and sister-in-lawless, I really needed something that would mind it's own business on the burner and be able to cook on its own. This is that dish.
Dal and Rice Pongal
In a heavy skillet or saucepan, dry roast 1 cup of rice for about 5 minutes. Set it aside
4 and 1/2 cups of water
1/2 tsp of turmeric
Turn down the heat, put a cover on the pan and let it cook for another 40 minutes or so until the rice is soft. When it's done, don't drain it, just set it aside.
Meanwhile, make a spice powder. In a spice blender or food processor, grind up:
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
Set the spice powder aside.
In a small heavy skillet melt 2 Tbs of unsalted butter. When the butter is hot and foamy toss in:
2 Tbs of cashews split in half
Once the rice and dal are done, heat 2 Tbs of unsalted butter in a small heavy pan and toss in:
The ground cumin and peppercorns
A 1 inch piece of grated fresh ginger
4 or 5 curry leaves
Saute them for about a minute, then add them to the rice and dal mixture, salt to taste, and finally sprinkle in 2 and 1/2 Tbs of grated or flaked unsweetened, dried coconut.
Scatter the toasted cashews over the whole thing, sprinkle the dish with chopped fresh cilantro and serve it up.
Okay, a serving note. When carrying heavy clay pots filled with tasty food around, watch out for lolling huskies, like this one.