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Wash the rice thoroughly in cold, running water, then leave to soak in a bowlful of water for 1 hr. Once soaked, drain, then cook in plenty of boiling salted water for about 8 mins until 90 per cent cooked. Drain again and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and fry until golden brown. Lift out half the onions with a slotted spoon and set aside. Continue frying the rest of the onions at a high heat until really crisp, then lift these out with a slotted spoon. Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with a little salt and set aside until ready to serve.
Return the first reserved batch of onions to the pan. Fry with the ginger and garlic for 1 min, then stir in the tomatoes, all the spices, the bay, yogurt and some salt. Cook for a few mins until the oil separates out, then add the potatoes and carrots with 400ml water. Gently cook for 20-30 mins or until the veg are almost cooked and saucy (splash in more water if the sauce gets too thick). Turn off the heat and stir in the peas.
Spread half the cooked rice over the bottom of a large casserole dish. Spread the saucy vegetables on top, sprinkle with the chopped coriander, then evenly cover with the remaining rice. Dampen a clean, thick tea towel, lay it over the casserole and put on the lid. Set it over a very low heat and cook for about 30 mins. Spoon into a large shallow dish to serve, gently mixing the vegetables and rice as you go, then scatter over the crispy onions.