Black lentils are a staple in the north of India and this dish takes its name from the free meal service (langar) offered in gurudwaras (Sikh temples), at which dal and rotis are a requisite. Cooked overnight with the simplest ingredients, it is delicious and fragrant. The husks of the lentils are removed before you buy them so that this dish is not black at all.
In a large pan put both dais, some salt, the turmeric, and about 3.5 – 5 pints of water and cook, covered, over a low flame for 1 hour and 10 minutes until well cooked. The water should have been absorbed. You can use a pressure cooker, in which case reduce the quantity of water by half and cook for 25 minutes after the cooker has reached pressure.
In a pan, heat the ghee and saute the ginger, green chiles, and cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato, red chili powder, and ground coriander and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add this to the cooked dal and cook for a further 5 minutes. Serve hot, sprinkled with fresh cilantro leaves, and accompany with tandoori rotis, chapattis, or naan bread.
3.75 cups split black lentils (urad dal)
4oz gram dal (channa dal)
salt to taste
1 teaspoon turmeric
3oz ghee (see page 155)
1oz piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
0.75oz green chiles, chopped
0.5oz cumin seeds
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
a large handful of cilantro leaves