This lentil dish is easy to prepare and has all the wonderful flavours that Indian cooking has to offer.
1/2 cup light vegetable oil
1 cup thinly sliced onion
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 cup canned chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 cup tamarind water (available from Asian grocers; or to make your own, see below)
2 cans cooked lentils, drained and liquid reserved
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground roasted cumin
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 red shallots, finely sliced
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan over a medium heat.
Add the onion and fry until it is lightly browned, stirring so it doesn't stick and burn.
Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the turmeric and paprika and cook for a moment.
Add the tomatoes and ginger and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add the tamarind water and the reserved lentil liquid.
Simmer the mixture, covered, over a low heat for 15-20 minutes.
Add the lentils, garam masala and cumin and cook for about 3 minutes or until the lentils are heated through.
Check seasoning, place in a bowl and sprinkle with shallots.
Serve with steamed rice or a rice pilaf.
Soak 1 cup tamarind pulp in 1 1/2 cups boiling water for 20 minutes, then strain it.