Bangladeshi Masoor Dal

Serves 4
1 cup red lentil
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 medium onion, sliced into very fine half-rings
1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons corn oil
1 to 2 dried whole hot red chilies
1 teaspoon panchphoran (spice mixture containing equal portions of whole cumin, fennel, mustard, fenugreek and nigella seeds)

Put the lentils, turmeric, and half the sliced onion in a lidded pan with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Do not let the pot boil over. Skim off the scum that rises to the surface with a slotted spoon. Partially cover with the lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 40 to 50 minutes, or until tender. Add the salt and mash the dal and onion well with a potato masher.
In a small pan, heat the oil until very hot. Add the chilies. As soon as they darken, put in the panchphoran. Stir once and put in the remaining onion. Stir and fry until the onion turns reddish-brown. Pour the oil and seasonings into the pan of lentils. Cover the pan quickly to trap the aromas.

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