- 1½ cups long-grain white rice, preferably basmati
- ½ cup small brown lentils, picked over
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced (about 1½ cups)
- 2 small green serrano chiles, sliced in ⅛-inch-thick rounds
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 4 cups hot water or chicken broth
- 1 medium tomato, chopped (about ½ cup)
- 1½ teaspoons salt
Rinse and soak the rice and lentils together in cold water for at least 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Drain well.
Make the tadka: Heat the oil in a large stockpot over high heat. When it begins to smoke, add the cumin seeds, covering the pan with a lid or spatter screen. After the seeds are done sputtering, add the onion, chiles, and butter, and sauté over medium heat until the onion turns golden brown.
Add the drained rice and lentils, and stir gently until all the rice is coated with the oil and butter, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the water, tomato, and salt and stir well. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the pilaf sit, covered, for another 5 minutes. Do not open the lid during the cooking period or resting time, as the rice is absorbing any remaining moisture in the pot. Fluff with a fork and serve hot.