1 cup yellow or orange (masoor)* lentils
1⁄2 cup white basmati rice
2 fresh bay leaves
2 tablespoons canola oil
1⁄4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1⁄2 cup chopped shallots
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1⁄2 cup diced red bell pepper
1⁄2 cup diced carrots
1⁄2 teaspoon Madras or sambar curry powder (I prefer 777 brand)
1 cup chopped fresh baby spinach leaves
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon coarsely crushed black peppercorns
8 to 10 fresh curry leaves
Rinse the lentils and rice until the water runs clear and transfer them to a big stockpot. Add the bay leaves and 1 teaspoon salt and cover with 2 to 3 inches of water and stir.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, skimming off any foam that appears during cooking. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Add a bit more water, if needed.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds. After a minute, when the cumin starts to sizzle, add the shallots and ginger. Stir.
When the shallots become glassy, after about 4 to 5 minutes, add the bell pepper and the carrots and stir to sauté. Add 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and the curry powder. Stir, cooking for 3 to 5 minutes more, until the vegetables are done but still al dente. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
Once the lentil and rice mixture is ready, add the sautéed vegetables. Stir together and remove from heat.
Now add the spinach and cilantro, stirring well. Adjust salt to taste.
In a separate pan, heat the olive oil. Add the black peppercorns and cook over low eat just until fragrant. Add the curry leaves, and fry for no more than 30 seconds.
Drizzle mixture over kichidi and serve. It should have a porridge-like consistency.