Bengali Cholar Dal

2.5 cups chana dal/cholar dal/split and husked Bengal grams
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoon ghee
3 small green cardamom
2″ stick cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
a generous pinch of hing/asafoetida
2 -4 red dry chili pepper
1 tejpatta/Indian Bay leaf
2 inch fresh ginger, grated/made into paste
3-5 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
salt to taste
a couple of tablespoon raisins (optional)
Dry chili for garnish – optional

Wash the lentils until the water runs clear. Add enough water for the lentils to be completely immersed and there should be an inch and a half of water above the level of the lentils. Add salt and turmeric and boil the lentils until tender but not breaking apart or mushy. Each and every lentil should be separate and whole for this recipe.
Once the lentils are cooked and you are ready to temper/season the dal.
Heat ghee in a pan big enough to hold the cooked lentils. Pound the cardamom pods to release the seeds. Add the cardamom and the cinnamon. A few seconds later add the hing/asafoetida, cumin, bay leaf and the dry red chili pepper. When the spices sizzle, add the cooked lentils, sugar, ginger, grated coconut to the pan. Simmer at low heat while occasionally stirring, for about 10-12 minutes.
Adjust salt and sugar. This dal is not supposed to be very soupy, but if you want to have a runny consistency you may add water. If you want it thick, simmer to have the extra water evaporate.

When almost done, add the fried coconuts and the raisins if you are using. Garnish with pepper.

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