A dish that includes lentils of some sort is a must as part of any indian meal. This recipe is from the south and is flavoured with coconut as well as a tarka of fried onion, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves which is mixed in towards the end of cooking.
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- PUT the lentils in a heavy-based saucepan with 500 ml (2 cups) water. Add the roughly chopped onion, tomato, creamed coconut or coconut milk, green chilli, turmeric, ground cumin and coriander, and bring to the boil. Simmer and cook, stirring occasionally until the lentils are cooked to a soft mush (masoor dal does not hold its shape when it cooks). This will take about 25 minutes. If all the water has evaporated before the lentils are cooked, add 125 ml (½ cup) of boiling water
- FOR the final seasoning (tarka), heat the oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds, cover and allow the seeds to pop. Add the finely chopped onion and curry leaves and fry over low heat until the onion is golden brown. Pour the seasoned onions into the simmering lentils. Season with salt, to taste, and cook for another 5 minutes.