Chef Sanjeev Chopra's soothing mixture of rice and beans is a version of a dish that many upper-class Indian families eat at almost every meal. The most religious families—especially those who practice Jainism—leave out the onion. Melted butter and a ginger-accented spice mix served in separate bowls allow people to flavor the pilaf to their own taste.
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1/2 cup basmati rice, rinsed
1 cup split mung beans (moong dal), rinsed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus melted butter for serving
Put the rice and mung beans in separate bowls. Cover with water and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain and shake dry.
In a medium saucepan, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the cumin and cook over moderate heat until fragrant and sizzling, about 30 seconds. Add the minced onion, jalapeño and ginger and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the soaked rice and mung beans along with the ground turmeric and toss to coat. Add the water, season with a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the liquid is absorbed and the grains and beans are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes.
Fluff the pilaf with a fork and transfer to a large bowl. Garnish with the cilantro and serve, passing melted butter and the Gingery Spice Mix alongside.
The pilaf can stand at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Rewarm before serving.
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