This most simple dal can be served as a side dish or a plain meal. In the south of India it is called uppu paruppu; the Parsi community call it dhandar.
This preparation is often used as the starting point for more interesting dal recipes. You add spices to make tarka dal, you can add spinach or eggs to make a heartier dish.
This version has a mixture of split pigeon peas and red lentils – toor dal and masoor dal. You can make it with either, or both. We like the texture that using both provides.
It is important not to overcook this, or you will end up with a mushy stodge – which may be OK if you intend to use this an ingredient in another recipe. If you intend to eat it as is, try to keep some texture in the pigeon peas, but to allow the red lentils to soften. The best technique is to use as little water as possible, and slowly add water as the dish develops to get the consistency you want.
The asafoetida and turmeric are to help digestion, sanitise the lentils, and reduce flatulence.
This makes a great meal, served with plain rice, a dollop of ghee, and the dal spooned over the top. Serve with some of your best pickle.
Place all the ingredients in a small pan with 1 litre of water and bring to a gentle boil, stirring frequently.
Using a large spoon, remove any foam.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The water should be about the same level as the dal. Seal the pot, turn heat off, and allow to stand for 10 minutes so the lentils absorb all the water. Stir occasionally.
If the lentils are drying out, add water a tablespoon at a time, stirring well.