My way of making Dal...
Chop an onion or two into small pieces - as near to dicing them as you can - pop this in a pan with some olive oil and fry gently so the onion goes soft and translucent.
Meantime in a pestle and mortar crush 3 garlic cloves with salt and pepper and then add your spices - I used - fenugreek, fennel seeds, caraway seeds, coriander, cumin, hot madras curry powder, tandoori spice and turmeric. I also added a splash of olive oil and a glop of sweet chilli sauce to make a paste.
Add this paste to your onion mix and fry gently, releasing the fantastic spice mix and building the base for your dal.
To this add your lentils - I use red lentils as they break down easily - but you can you yellow, or the yellow split pea type. stir them through your mixture to coat them in the spice mix.
Add boiling water from the kettle - you will need to keep topping this up as your lentils plump out and absorb the water.
This might not be strictly authentic, but I also crumble in two veg stock cubes at this point - it give a good steady base not to the dish and a more rounded taste.
Finally and right at the end I added a big spoonful of creme fraiche, you could also add cream or butter or yoghurt. It's just to round it out and give it a creamy finish.
Serve with Roti - the recipe I use is from the River Cottage Bread Handbook which can be found here....