For the dal
1 cup yellow, red, or a mix of lentils
4 roughly chopped small green chilis
1 roughly chopped medium tomato
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
1 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
To taste salt
2 to 3 tablespoons tamarind juice or tamarind concentrate, or lemon or lime juice
For the baghaar (tadka)/tempering
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 garlic cloves, cut lengthwise in two
2 dried red chilies, each broken in two
8 fresh or dried curry leaves
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
Wash and soak the lentils in water for two to three hours. Drain and wash in fresh water. Cook in a pressure cooker with about three cups of water, turmeric powder, tomato, chili powder, green chilies, garlic, ginger and salt until the dal is soft. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, bring lentils, tomatoes, chili, seasonings and water to a boil in a pot on the stove. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Remove from heat and puree in a blender or by using an immersion blender.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a small non-stick frying pan at medium heat. Add the cumin seeds. As they begin to splatter, cover with a screen and reduce heat to medium low. Add the remaining ingredients for tempering and remove from heat.
Bring the pureed lentils back to a boil, either in a pressure cooker or on the stove. Add the tamarind juice (or lemon/lime juice) and the ingredients for tempering. Stir to mix. You can add additional water to achieve the consistency you desire. Adjust salt, and serve with rice.
For the dal