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Dal tarka, or simmered lentils finished with spice-infused butter, is a ubiquitous Indian dish, though some versions are more elaborate than others. Different varieties of lentils can be used to make dal, but we opted for split yellow lentils (toor dal) to recreate the dal tarka we had in Mumbai. (Note: Yellow lentils and yellow split peas are not the same.) If you’re able to find ghee, a type of clarified butter, we highly recommend using it to make the tarka because its full, round, slightly nutty flavor lends depth to the dish. If ghee is not available, salted butter works well.
cup split yellow lentils, rinsed and drained
teaspoons ground turmeric, divided
01In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils, 1 teaspoon of turmeric and 5½ cups water. Bring to a boil, then cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat to maintain a simmer, until the lentils are thick and have broken down, 1 to 1¼ hours; stir more often as the mixture thickens. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt; cover to keep warm and set aside.
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