Pick and rinse the lentils a couple of times. If you want you can also soak the lentils in water for an hour.
Add the lentils in a pressure cooker along with a pinch of turmeric powder. Also add 2 cups water.
Pressure cook for 18 to 20 minutes on a low to medium flame.
When the pressure settles down on its own, open the lid and check the dals.
The lentils should be cooked very well and softened.
Lightly mash and keep aside.
Making dhaba style dal
In a kadai or pan, heat 1.5 tablespoon oil or ghee.
Add all the whole spices and saute them till they crackle and become fragrant.
Then add the chopped onions.
Stir often and saute till the onions turn light golden.
Then add 1 tsp crushed ginger, 1 tsp crushed garlic, 2 to 3 slit green chilies and 2 to 3 dry red chilies. Mix well and saute till the raw aroma of ginger & garlic goes away.
Add crushed kasuri methi and stir.
Now add the chopped tomatoes. Stir and saute till the tomatoes soften.
Then add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder and a pinch of asafoetida.
Mix the spice powders with the rest of the onion-tomato masala.
Add the cooked dal and mix well.
Add water and stir very well.
Season with salt and mix again.
Simmer the dhaba dal on a low flame till the dal thickens a bit.
Keep on stirring at intervals so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
When the dal is done, switch off the flame. Add chopped coriander leaves. Reserve some coriander leaves for garnishing.
Garnish with some coriander leaves and serve the dhaba style dal hot with rotis or parathas or steamed rice or cumin rice or ghee rice. You can also do the dhungar method if you want and then serve the dal.
Lentils: Remember to use lentils that are fresh and within their shelf period. If possible use unpolished lentils for better taste and nutrition. You can vary the proportion of lentils according to your preferences. This recipe is very versatile and can be made with just one lentil also. Overall you can also add ½ cup mixed lentils or 180 grams of mixed lentils.
Spices: This recipe makes for a faintly spicy dal. If you cannot tolerate spicy food then reduce the amount of ginger, garlic, red chillies, green chillies and red chilli powder.
Fats: For a richer version you can make the recipe in ghee or butter. Usually the dhaba food has more oil or ghee. So you can add a total of 3 tablespoons ghee or oil.
Gluten free option: Omit adding asafoetida in the recipe or use gluten free asafoetida.
Scaling: The recipe can not be doubled as it is. You have to use the method of approximation and your own judgement when cooking it.