This recipe uses chana dal, the split insides of the black chickpea. They’re naturally very flavorful and don’t need a lot of spicing to transform into a gorgeous, mild coconut dal. In Bengal, this is usually eaten with puri, which are little puffed fried breads, but I like to serve mine with a vegetable subji (dry curry), some punchy pickle, and rice or hot naan bread. —Meera Sodha
Wash the chana dal in a few changes of cold water until the water runs clear, then cover with twice the amount of water and boil for around 45 minutes, or until cooked through and tender then leave to one side.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and, when hot, add the garlic and ginger. Stir-fry until the garlic starts to brown, then add the tomatoes and cook the tomatoes for around 5 to 8 minutes, or until they reduce and become quite paste-like.
Add the turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, salt, and sugar to the tomatoes. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes, then add the tomato mixture and the coconut milk into the chana dal and stir to mix.
Bring the dal to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes to bring all the flavors together. Taste your dal, adjusting salt as need be and topping up with hot water until it’s the perfect consistency for rice. Scatter with the toasted coconut and serve with hot steamed basmati rice.