Add onions (or shallot, or cipollini, or all three) and garlic to hot oil and saute until translucent (add garlics later; or they will get bitter). Note: cipollini and shallot ain't dirt cheap; so stick to an onion if you want to be true to 'dirt cheap.'
Add lentils, ginger and spices and mix everything to cover with oil. Leave for a short minute.
Add water or stock, and bring to high simmer. Turn heat down to low heat and cover with lid. Cook until all liquid is absorbed and lentils are soft. Don't over-cook it dry; leave it a little mushy.
When done mix in a little butter and serve with fresh herbs.(Easy to make vegan if you hold the butter.)