Note: lentils benefit from rinsing a few times in cold water. The
best way to do this is to poor cold water over lentils in a bowl, the
pour off a few times - a strainer/sieve comes in handy so as not to lose
lentils through wide holes of a colander.
While water is coming to simmer point, prepare the ingredients. Slice your onions, garlic, and chillies. Chop tomato. Then add these to the simmering water together with the turmeric, cinnamon, salt, curry leaves and mint.
The water will be infused with the colour of the turmeric, which is the classic dahl curry colour. Now add your pink lentils and stir through. Allow to simmer gently stirring occasionally so as to prevent sticking. A lid may be placed partially over pot for slower cooking.
The dahl should thicken, absorbing the water without becoming dry. Stir, taste for salt - if too little, add a pinch.
When the dahl is cooked prepare your Vagaar* (the art of tempering whole spice).
Heat sunflower oil in small pot. If using mustard seeds, add first until they pop, then add sliced onion, jeera, garlic and sizzle, taking care not to burn garlic.
As soon as onion and garlic are golden, pour vagaar into pot of dahl - it should sizzle and crackle. Take a ladle, scoop out some dahl, pour into sunflower oil pot so as to grab all the flavoured oil and return to main dahl pot.
Place on lid. Serve with plain boiled basmati rice and masala grilled fish. Garnish with plain yoghurt and fresh dhania leaves (coriander/cilantro). Reprinted with permission of Raziyah Johnston - Spice in the City.