Tip the lentils into a bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside. Tip the rice into a bowl and cover with cold water. Whisk for 1-2 mins till the water goes cloudy. Drain, rinse and tip into a small pan.
Add 300ml boiling water and a pinch of salt to the rice. Cover and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down under the rice and simmer for 8 mins till all the water is absorbed. Take off the heat, uncover and lay a clean tea towel over the top. Put the lid back on and leave the rice to steam in the pan. It'll keep warm while you make the lentils.
While the rice cooks, peel and finely chop the onion and carrots. Warm a pan over a medium-low heat, then add 1 tbsp oil, the onion and carrots. Season. Cook for 5 mins, stirring now and then, till the veg are soft and glossy.
While the veg sweat, crush 4 cardamom pods and 2 whole cloves together in a mortar and pestle, discarding the papery cardamom husks. Roughly chop the dates. Peel and grate the garlic and ginger.
Add the spices to the veg along with the cinnamon stick. Stir together and cook for a further 1-2 mins.
Drain the lentils and add them to the pan. Stir in the dates, garlic, ginger and tamarind. Add 300ml 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 needed. Fluff the rice with a fork and spoon into bowls. Top with the lentils, pomegranate seeds and mint leaves to garnish.