Soak 1 cup of mixed lentils for 3 hours if you are using a pressure cooker to make the preparation. If not, soak it overnight.
Wash and drain the lentils until the water runs clear. Add water to the pan, boil the lentils, and remove the froth.
Add 1tsp of salt and ½ tsp of turmeric.
Cook the dal in a pressure cooker for 4-5 whistles or 30 minutes. If you're using a pan, boil it for an hour until the lentils are soft and cooked.
Prepare the ‘tadka’ dal
To a pan, add 2 tbsp of oil at medium to high heat
Add 1 inch stick of cinnamon and 3 cloves
Add 1 tsp of black mustard seeds. Wait for them to start popping. Turn the heat down a little when that happens.
Add ½ tsp cumin seeds, followed by ¼ tsp of asafoetida, and curry leaves
Thereafter, add chopped onions followed by a pinch of salt and some black pepper. Stir the onions on medium heat, till they turn golden brown.
Add 1 tbsp of ghee or butter, and then add garlic/ginger/green chili to it. Lower the heat if required, and ensure that you do not burn the garlic/ginger. Cook the same for 3-4 mins until the onions start to brown.
Add ½ a tin of tomatoes, followed by coriander/ cumin powder, garam masala, red chilli powder, and Kashmiri chilli powder (a spicy variant of red chill powder). Cook for 10 mins and stir.
Add 1 tsp of tamarind paste (this is optional. One can also use 1tsp of lemon juice instead of the tamarind paste). Cook with a lid for 15-20 mins until the tomatoes separate from the oil.
Take off the heat and add this ‘tadka’ to the boiled lentils
Add coriander leaves to the preparation.
When the dal is cooked remove cinnamon sticks and the whole cloves before serving.
Serve it with basmati rice OR parathas/chappati (Indian flat bread).