* 1 cup split urad dal (black lentils) — Pick over very carefully, then soak in cold water overnight, and drain before using*
* 2 large onions, thinly sliced (each onion is used separately)
* 2-3 green chilies, halved lengthwise
* Pinch of asafoetida
* Coarse salt
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 2 large tomatoes, chopped
* 1 (2-inch) piece fresh peeled ginger, chopped finely
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* 2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 2 tablespoons Ghee (clarified butter)
* 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
* Naan, for serving
Place drained lentils and add to a large saucepan along with 3 cups water, 1 sliced onion, chiles, and asafoetida; season with salt (about a couple of tablespoons) and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until lentils are very tender, about 30 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add remaining onion and cook, stirring, until soft and very golden. Add ginger and garlic; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, coriander, ground cumin, and chili powder. Cook, stirring, until tomatoes are softened and mixture is fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Drain lentils, reserving cooking water. Add lentils to skillet along with enough of the reserved cooking water to make a thick gravy-like consistency. Let simmer about 10 minutes. Stir in heavy cream until well combined; remove from heat.
In a small saucepan, heat ghee until very hot. Carefully add cumin seeds and cook until they stop popping. Carefully pour mixture over lentils (it will sizzle) and mix to combine. Serve immediately with naan. Serves four to five people.
* The Quick Soak Method of soaking the dhal can be used: place the dhal in a large pot, and cover generously with water. Bring to a rolling boil. Boil for two minutes, then turn off the heat. Let sit, undisturbed, for 2 hours. Voila! Pre-soaked dhal in less than 2 1/2 hours!