I developed this dhal recipe after watching friends cook over the years. It's heavenly served over basmati rice. Don't skip the caramelised onions and garlic - it is what sets this recipe apart!
Masoor dal are skinned and split masoor lentils. They're salmon-coloured and cook quickly. Red split lentils in the supermarket are a close equivalent.
As an Indian who makes Dhall often, I use fresh tomatoes if I have them and have used cherry toms if I haven't got the larger ones - the toms are suppose to cook down. I also add a few curry leaves whilst frying. Tinned toms are fine too but fresh ones makes this tastier! Try adding half a teaspoon of cumin seeds first when the oil is hot then add the rest. - 17 Jun 2016
The idea of using fresh garlic and onion on the dhal as you boil it, while frying some to a caramelised state produces a nice fresh flavour and the the caramelised onion gives sweetness. The fresh coriander when serving it gives zing, making it excellent for a straightforward and tasty dhal bhat (dal with rice). I changed the cherry tomatoes for tinned chopped ones as I was not convinced that the expense of the cherry tomatoes made any sense - would the flavour survive 20 minutes of boiling? I doubt it. I also used fresh turmeric as I had some to hand. - 26 May 2016
A few things to note: 1. Traditional (and in my opinion, more flavorful) daal is made with chhana daal, this can be found in the ethnic section. 2. cherry tomatoes are never used in bengali cooking, I recommend 1 small tomato, diced. 3. I recommend using 1 large onion in the whole dish, 3/4 in the lentils and the remainder when frying up at the end. 4. The heat level for this dish is not high with serrano peppers. I would recommend using the small hot peppers found at an Indian store. 5. 1/2 tsp of turmeric is very mild to me. I would use 1-2 tsp myself, as it's very healthy for you and doesn't have a strong flavor. - 07 Apr 2010 (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)