I heard the host of Splendid Table interview Raghavan Iyer in November who described one method for dahl. It's sooo delicious.
In a saucepan -
1 C Red lentils
"A couple of cups of water"
Bring to boil and then simmer until water is absorbed and texture is smooth. Keep an eye on these.
Make the flavor base in a skillet -
3 T veg or canola oil (or ghee)
1 t cumin seeds
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T ginger, grated
1 t turmeric
1-2 chilies (you decide how hot you like it)
1-2 tomatoes, chopped (optional)
handful of cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
Heat the oil over med-high heat. Toss in the cumin seeds when the oil is hot - they should sizzle.
When they turn red-brown and turn aromatic, add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilies. Turn heat to medium and allow to cook slowly until very soft (8-10 min).
Stir in turmeric and tomato (if using).
Stir in cilantro.
Allow flavors to combine over med-low heat for another few minutes.
Scrape contents of skillet into pot of lentils and mix well.
Iyer's assertion was that dhal accompanies every Indian meal, but I could eat this alone for dinner over rice.