(Quick note on quantities:
The amount of spice to add can be variable and depend on the individual.  I initially got a sense for quantities by following amounts listed on recipes but now can gauge by feel what seems appropriate.  For the recipes I have here I decided to do a sliding scale of 1-4 to determine amounts:  1 is a “pinch,” 2 is “more than a pinch,” 3 is a “good amount, but not too much,” 4 is a “good amount, with a touch extra.”)

Simple Dal:

4 cups water
Turmeric Powder (2)
1 cup red lentils (masor dal)
1 clove
Good quality salt (sea salt is recommended) (1.5 – 2)

Bring water to a boil with turmeric
Add lentils
When water re-boils add clove
Bring the water to a simmer and cook for about 20-25 mins. partially covered, until tender

Turn off heat and add salt


Simple Dal #2

Cumin Powder (1)
Coriander Powder (2)
1 cup dal  (Yellow mung or red lentils or a combination; urad dal is ok, too, and good for moments when food with heating properties is beneficial)
4 cups Water
Turmeric (1)
Fresh Grated Ginger or a pinch of crushed black pepper (2)
1 Black Cardamom Pod or 2 cloves (optional but recommended)
Mango Powder (2) (optional but good for adding the element of the sour taste)
Quality Salt (1-2)

Dry Roast Cumin Powder gently, and then add Coriander Powder
Quickly add the mung beans and stir to mix with the powders
Add the water, followed by the turmeric
Once the water comes to a boil add the ginger or black pepper
Bring the water to a simmer and add the cardamom pod or clove
Cook at a simmer, partially covered, for 25-30mins. or until tender.  Adding water is totally ok if it starts looking dry.  The pot can be fully covered, too, to keep moisture from escaping.
Turn off heat
Add the mango powder and stir
Add the salt


Spice party for simple dals:

Spice Party #1

Simple Dal recipe as above
Cumin seeds (3)
1 Whole red chili pepper (or fresh sliced ginger)

To the finished Simple Dal add spice infused oil (Tadka):
In a small frying pan or durable measuring cup heat a big dollop of ghee over medium heat
While the ghee is heating start reheating the pot of simple dal (only let it get to a gentle simmer.)
When the ghee is hot add the cumin seeds.  Let the seeds sputter a bit and turn a few shades darker.
When the seeds smoke they are releasing their aroma, but do not let them get too far past this point or else they will burn.
Add the chili pepper, let it sizzle for a second, and turn off the heat.
Add the spice infused oil to the pot of the dal, stir gently, turn off the heat on the dal, and cover.
Let it sit for a few mins and allow the flavors to settle.

Spice party #2

Simple Dal recipe
Black Mustard Seeds
Cumin Seeds
Curry Leaves
Black Cumin Seeds
1 Whole Red Chili Pepper
A little fresh diced ginger, or some fresh cilantro (optional)

As the pot of completed Simple Dal heats gently, prepare the oil:
Heat the ghee in a small frying pan or durable measuring cup over medium heat
When the ghee is hot, add the black mustard seeds.  They will sputter and smoke and start turning grey.
Once and as the mustard seeds start doing this, add the cumin seeds.  Let the cumin seeds start turning a few shades darker.
Add the curry leaves immediately followed by the black cumin seeds.  Let them mix with the oil for a sec.
Add the chili pepper.
Add the ginger or coriander (or both!)
Turn off the heat and add it to the pot of dal.

This process of spice layering happens somewhat quickly, with the most time being spent on the mustard and cumin seeds.  Have the spices ready BEFORE you start cooking.
It might take some practice getting the timing just right of the mustard and cumin seeds as they go through their phases of being heated.  No worry, as the practice attempts will still be delicious, even if they are a tad burnt:)