Tip the lentils into a sieve and give them a rinse. Tip into a medium pan and cover with boiling water. Cover and bring to the boil. Drain and rinse again.
While the lentils cook, tip the rice into a bowl and cover with cold water. Whisk them for 1-2 mins till the water goes cloudy (this is the starch). Drain, rinse and tip into a small pan. Add 400 ml boiling water and a pinch of salt. Cover and bring to the boil.
Turn the heat right down under the rice and gently simmer for 8 mins till all the water is absorbed. Take off the heat, uncover and lay a clean tea towel over the top of the rice. Put the lid back on and leave the rice to steam in the pan. It will keep warm while you make the lentils.
Peel and finely chop the onion. Trim, peel and finely chop the carrots. Warm the pan you boiled the lentils in for 1 min, then add 1 tbsp oil, the onion and carrots. Season. Cook over a lowish heat for 5 mins, stirring now and then, till the veg are soft and glossy.
While the veg cook, roughly chop the dates. Peel and grate the garlic and ginger.
Tip the lentils into the pan. Stir in the dates, garlic and ginger. Squeeze in the sachet of tamarind. Add 300 ml boiling water. Cover and bring to the boil.
Once the lentils are boiling, turn the heat down and simmer for 15 mins till the lentils are thick. Stir now and then – if they stick, add a splash more water. The lentils will suck up all the liquid, but they shouldn’t be dry and solid.
While the lentils cook, halve the pomegranate. Hold one half in your hand, cut-side down, over a bowl and whack with a wooden spoon to shake out the seeds. Repeat with the other half. Taste the lentils and add more salt and pepper if you think it needs it. Serve the lentils with the rice, garnished with pomegranate seeds and mint leaves.