To prepare pilaf, combine the first 8 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; stir once. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Discard cinnamon, cardamom, and bay leaf.
To prepare dal, heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; sauté for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in ginger, curry powder, cumin, and garlic; cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add 4 cups water and next 4 ingredients (through serrano); bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir in cilantro. Serve over pilaf.