Ready in 1 hour 30 minutes
An Indian dal. Very good! Madhur Jaffrey says "There are many variations of the final flavoring that is provided in this recipe by the asefetida, cumin, and red peppers. You might like to try them. Into the 2 Tbsp oil, you may put (1) 2 tsp blck mustard seeds, a bay leaf, 1/2 tsp grated ginger, and 3 fresh green chilies; (2) 1 tsp kalonji, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 tsp ginger and 3 fresh green chilies; (3) 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger, and 1/4 tsp cayenne; or (4) 1 Tbsp minced onion, 1/2 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp ground cumin, and 1/4 tsp cayenne.
Put the dal and 4 cups of water in a heavy 3-qt pot. Bring to boil and skim off the scum. Add ginger and turmeric. Turn low and cover in such a way as to leave the lid slightly ajar. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours till dal is no longer grainy. When done, a thick puree settles to the bottom and a thin "dal water" rises to the top. Turn the heat very low if necessary to avoid sticking, esp during the last 15 minutes. Add the salt and mix it in. Keep the dal covered and hot.
Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. When hot, put in the asefetida, then the cumin and hot peppers. This should take about 10 seconds total. Quickly pour the oil and spices into the hot dal. Cover it immediately and let it absorb the flavorings for at least one minute before serving.