As for other standard Indian recipes, there's no way to credit the original source for this recipe. This is my version, evolved over some years. As far as I can tell, the secret of good dhal is to cook it for ever. I usually cook it for at least 3 hours, in large quantities, then freeze individual portions. You can use other lentils in this as well, such as chana dhal (yellow split peas) or moong dhal (split mung beans).
1. Wash the lentils well, then drain and place in a pan with the ground cumin, turmeric, grated ginger and about 1 1/4 litres (40fl oz, 5 cups) water.
2. Stir, bring to the boil, then cook, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes. Cover and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for at least 1/2 hour more. The longer the better - turn the heat right down and cook it for 3 hours if you can.
3. Meanwhile, slice the onion into thin half-moons and brown with the stock cube, or use oil if you prefer. Set aside.
4. When the lentils are done, stir in the onions and salt to taste. Add the chopped coriander (cilantro) and stir.
5. Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic. Cook for a minute, stirring, until browned, then add the cumin seed and cook for a few seconds longer. Pour the oil and spices into the dhal, then put on the lid to trap the aromas. Mix well before serving.
Kake's (Vegan) Cookery Site - http://www.earth.li/~kake/cookery/
This page added some time in 1997 (last altered 6 Jun 1998) - comments and questions to Kake L Pugh (firstname.lastname@example.org).