We visited Jon's family in Rhode Island and New York for Christmas, and we got back a couple days ago. I made this for lunch yesterday before we went grocery shopping. It's mostly pantry staples for us, and it came together very easily. The basic idea is from Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Sumana Ray, but I have modified the directions. She has you cook the lentils for over an hour, which I find unnecessary. It's a warming, beautifully spiced soup. I leave the whole spices in because as it sits they contribute more and more to the flavor. The cardamom pods can be eaten whole if they've been sitting in the soup for a while. They'll give you a nice burst of freshness.
1 cup split beans (I used a combination of urid dal and split mung beans, or moong dal)
5 cups water
2 chopped tomatoes or 2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil
1/4 cup diced onion
2 bay leaves
4 cardamom pods
1 inch stick cinnamon
3/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
2 dried chiles, cut in half if you want a hotter soup
Place beans and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that forms. Add the tomatoes, salt, turmeric, and ground cumin and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until beans are done, about 15 minutes. While you're waiting, you can prepare the rest of the ingredients. In a small saute pan, heat the ghee or oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 4 minutes or until soft and slightly translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients and let sizzle for about a minute. Remove from heat. When the beans are done, add the ghee and spices to the lentils and stir to combine.