This recipe adds shallots, hot green chiles, and tamarind paste spooned over the mashed lentils. Check your local Indian market for hard-to find ingredients.
3⁄4 cup toor dal (yellow lentils)
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 fresh hot green chile, halved
7 oz. shallots (about 12), peeled
2 tbsp. tamarind paste
3 tbsp. sambar powder
1 tsp. salt
1⁄2 tsp. ground turmeric
1⁄2 tsp. brown mustard seeds
15 fresh curry leaves (optional)
Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
1. Combine toor dal and 2 1⁄2 cups water in a saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat until soft, about 1 hour. Remove from heat, mash, and set aside.
2. Heat 2 tbsp. of the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chile and fry, stirring, until it begins to whiten around the edges. Stir in shallots and fry until lightly browned. Reduce heat and cook until shallots are soft.
3. To dal, add tamarind paste, sambar powder, salt, turmeric, shallot–chile mixture, and 2 cups water. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
4. Heat remaining 1 tbsp. oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds and sauté until they pop. Stir in curry leaves, if using. Spoon over sambar. Garnish with cilantro leaves.