Masoor Dal

1/2 cup raw red lentils (masoor dal)
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil or butter
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp asafetida
1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1 tbsp peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped tomato

Rinse and drain the lentils and combine with the water in a medium saucepan. Stir in the salt, turmeric and cayenne and bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. Skim off and discard the cloudy white foam that appears on the surface as the lentils begin to boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Meanwhile, heat the oil or butter in a medium frying pan over high heat for about 30 seconds. Add the cumin seeds and the asafetida and cook for 1 minute, until the seeds begin to sizzle and pop. Add the garlic, ginger, onion and tomato and toss gently for 1 minute, until they shine and begin to wilt. Reduce the heat to medium and cook 5 minutes, tossing occasionally. Set aside.

Add the onion mixture to the lentils and continue cooking for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked. Stir well and remove from the heat. Serve hot or warm.

-Nancie McDermott, The Curry Book