A simple, everyday dish from the north that goes well with both rice and flatbreads.

    SERVES 4

    • 1 cup dried black-eyed peas, washed and soaked overnight
    • ¾ teaspoon salt, or to taste
    • 1 well-packed cup fresh cilantro tops, chopped
    • 2–4 fresh hot green chilies, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
    • 2 teaspoons olive or peanut oil
    • Generous pinch of ground asafetida
    • ½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
    • 1 dried hot red chili
    • ½ medium onion, peeled and cut into fine half rings

    1. Drain the peas, place in a pan with 4 cups water, and bring to a boil. Skim off the froth, lower the heat, and simmer very gently, partially covered, for 1¼ hours. Mash a few tablespoons of the beans against the sides of the pan, then mix in the salt.

    2. Put 4 tablespoons of water in a blender. Add the cilantro, green chilies, and tomato purée. Blend thoroughly. You might need to push the ingredients down with a rubber spatula or add a tiny bit more water.

    3. Put the oil in a small frying pan set over medium heat. When hot, add the asafetida and, a few seconds later, the cumin seeds. Let the cumin sizzle for a few seconds, then add the red chili and let it darken all over. Add the onions and fry until reddish brown.

    4. Tip in the paste from the blender and fry until it is thick. Pour the contents of the pan into the beans and mix thoroughly. You can make the dal as thin or as thick as you like.