5 cups water
1 tsp peeled, minced fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp minced jalapeno (optional) or you can use red pepper flakes in the final stage, to taste
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 1/2 tbsp veg oil or ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1/8 tsp (pinch) of hing (asafetida powder)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp salt (reduce to 3/4 if low sodium diet)
Wash the split peas thoroughly in a pot, changing the water frequently until it is clear. Drain and place split peas, water, bay leaf, ginger, turmeric and jalapeno chili in a 2 qt saucepan with lid and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about an hour or until the split peas are mushy and soft and start to break up. Add water if necessary during this process.
Remove the bay leaf and use a whisk to blend the split peas into a smoother texture. Add the salt and stir.
In a small saucepan heat the oil or ghee over a medium flame. Stir in the cumin seeds, black mustard seeds (and red pepper flakes if using) and fry until the cumin seeds are brown and mustard seeds pop, then add remaining ground spices, swirling the pan to coat with oil. When these spices just start to smoke--the barest hint--remove from flame and pour carefully into the cooked split peas. Cover for a few minutes, stir once more, and serve. If you like cilantro (coriander leaves) you can serve with a little chopped cilantro on top. Dahl is often served over basmati rice.
Variation: add 2 tbsp lemon juice before cooking split peas and balance this with 2 tsp sugar or honey at the end.
Vegetables may be added if desired--tomatoes are a common addition and root vegetables can be added at the beginning. I would add tomatoes and chopped spinach late in the cooking process, just before adding the final spices.