Had a great time teaching three legume recipes on Sunday in Central Jersey. The hostess is a Taoist and vegan who invited 25 friends who wanted to learn more about cooking vegetarian meals. I made the Sweet and Sour Chickpeas, and Red Lentils with Fenugreek and Squash/Pumpkin from my book, along with a brand new recipe for white lentils which I'll share here. The group was amazed at the difference in taste among the recipes and how good they were! But anyone familiar with the range of dishes made with legumes on the subcontinent would not be surprised.
White Lentils with South Indian Flavors (Vegan or Vegetarian)
4-5 servings
In honor of my Taoist friends who, like the Jains and Kashmiri Brahmins of India, do not eat onions and garlic, I prepared a dish without them in the Jain-style. The tardka or tempering is very similar to the one I make for coconut chutney (recipe in the book) and uses the flavors one would find in South Indian dishes. The dish is fragrant with the wonderful scent of kari leaves, little green leaves on their stems that are found fresh in small cellophane packets in Indian grocery stores. Don't be afraid of the heat of whole chilies, If you want a "hotter" taste, crush them first. White lentils are the split/washed lentil freed from its black seed coat called Urad Daal in Hindi.

1 cup white lentils (Split/hulled Urad Daal)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

For the tardka:
3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or canola oil (vegan)
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
10 kari leaves
4 or more whole, small, dried birdseye red chili peppers
3 tablespoon coarsely chopped cashews
Pinch of salt
Pick over the lentils and wash until the water runs clear. Drain. Put into a medium pot with 6 cups water, salt and turmeric and bring to a boil. cover and reduce heat to simmer, cooking for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, adding more water if necessary. The lentils should open and start to be "creamy".
In a separate small pan, fry the mustard seeds with oil until some begin to "pop", then add the cumin until many seem to "pop". Add the chilies and the kari leaves, stirring until they release their fragrance. Add the cashews and stir until lightly brown. Remove the lentils to serving bowl. Top with the tardka, slightly stirred in.
Enjoy with chapattis or rice.