India and dal are synonymous to each other. One can't be in India if they haven't had some version of dal, whichever part of the country they may be in. It's not like we talk lengths about it or how it should be made. For most cooks can blindly make dal, a little bit of this and that lentil, a few spices from the masala dabba (a spice box used by Indians to keep day to day spices), a trusty pressure cooker and a pot full of dal is always simmering away.
This is my everyday dal, one I make without any measurement or thought. Everyone's everyday dal will be slightly different. A different lentil mix, a different tadka, a different thickness but in my observation, their favourite will always be the one they grew up with. For instance, the one I grew up with never had red chillies or red chilly powder, the heat would only come from fresh green chillies, with tons of cilantro forming a pale green hue in an otherwise mustard coloured soup.
Everyday Tadka Dal - Indian Lentil Soup
Dal usually refers to the pulses or lentils that are split so in essence soupy dal is made with split variety. When whole lentils are used, the preparation is usually on the drier side, more like a curry. This of course is just a general outline.
Whole red chillies can be added to the tempering for a spicier version. Also, mustard seeds, onions, cherry tomatoes etc can be added in the tempering. Whether enjoyed as soup or a meal with some carbs, the only condiment that shouldn't be missed is several wedges of lemon.
1/2 cup masoor dal (split red lentils)
1/2 cup moong dal or tuvar dal (split pigeon pea)
5 cups water or vegetable stock
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
2-3 green chillies, or adjust to preference, chopped or split into two
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
4 tbsp oil or ghee
10-12 curry leaves
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tbsp ginger paste
1/2 cup coriander leaves, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
Pressure cook all the ingredients (except for tempering) for 15 minutes until the lentils are completely cooked and mashes. Alternatively cook them in a heavy bottom sauce pan which might take about 30-40 minutes.
Whisk the mash and add more or less water depending on the consistency required.
Heat ghee in a small saucepan and add curry leaves, once they crisp add cumin seeds, ginger paste and sliced garlic. Once the garlic brown add the oil to the dal mixture.
Add chopped coriander leaves and lemon juice. Serve hot.