Bengali Risotto - Creamy spiced rice and lentil melange

Every time I make this dish, I keep hearing my mother's voice telling me to keep stirring and make sure that is it creamy but not overcooked. Sounds familiar? Yes, much like any risotto, the rice here is different, technique similar, ingredients somewhat healthier and this could make a vegan dish if you so wish. We bengalis call this risotto khichuri.
The other day I came across fresh green peas so I had to make this dish. Frozen peas can be substituted fairly well in this dish.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Difficulty level: Intermediate

Serves 6


1 cup of mushoor dal (red split lentils)
8 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
3/4 cup rice (I use the kalajeera variety)
1 potato, peeled and cut into eights
1 cup cauliflower florettes
1/2 cup green peas (preferably frozen)
For the tempering
2-3 tbsp oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tomato, cut into a dice
Method of Preparation

1. Place the lentils in a pot with 3 cups of water, salt, turmeric and chili powder. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the temperature and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. The lentils should be only partially cooked.
2. Add in the rice, potatoes and cauliflower and the peas (only if fresh) and another cup of water. Continue cooking stirring occasionally adding the remaining water as needed. The objective is to reach a stage where the lentils are a smooth yellow puree and the rice is soft but not mushy. This takes about 25 minutes.
3. Add in any remaining water and the frozen peas if using frozen peas. Cover the pot and turn off the heat, this allows the gentle completion of the cooking process.
4. Heat the oil and add the onions and let these cook on low-medium heat, stirring ever so occasionally, continue this until the onions begin to turn lightly golden brown (takes a good 10 minutes).
5. Stir in the cumin seeds and the tomatoes and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and then mix this into the lentil rice (khichuri) mixture.
6. Place the entire khichuri on the fire for a couple of minutes and serve immediately.

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Complementary Wines: Cider: hard, Fruit Wine: Cranberry, Mojito: rum, lime juice, sugar, mint, Riesling: Late Harvest

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