Chholar Dal (Festive Chickpeas with Coconut and Whole Spices)
1 cup / 250 milliliters chana dal (split chickpeas), soaked overnight in 5 cups / 1 liter of water
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 whole fresh green chili
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoon raisins
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil (mustard oil preferred)
1 bay leaf
1 whole dried red chili
5 whole cardamom pods
2 inch / 5 centimeter cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon kalonji seeds
1 tablespoon seeded, chopped fresh green chili
2 tablespoons dried flaked or shredded sweetened coconut (or freshly grated or shredded coconut mixed with 1 teaspoon sugar)
Bring chana dal and the soaking water to boil in a large pan over medium heat. Add turmeric and whole chili. Simmer, covered, 1 hour, or until the dal is very tender and breaks easily when pressed between thumb and index finger. During this period, uncover and stir often, adding 1-2 tablespoon of water if the dal starts to stick to the bottom.
Discard whole chili. Add salt and cumin. Remove from heat. Puree 1 cup/250 milliliter of the dal mixture in a blender, adding a little water if necessary. Return to the pan. Add raisins. Bring to simmer then keep warm.
Heat oil in a pan over medium low heat. Fry bay leaf and red chili until the chili darkens. Fry cardamom, cinnamon and cloves for 5 seconds. Add kalonji and fry another few seconds. Turn heat to low. Add chopped green chili and coconut and cook for a few seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Add this spice mixture to the dal. Simmer 2-3 more minutes. Remove dal from heat. Garnish with lemon wedges, sprinkle with whole cilantro leaves and serve.