Wash the dhal thoroughly and pick out any grit or foreign particles. Toor dhal, in particular, needs assiduous attention.
Boil the dhal, then simmer slowly in salted water in a saucepan over low heat for up to an hour, perhaps longer. It is ready when you can mash a grain easily with your fingers and thumb. When cooked, there should still be plenty of water in the pot. If there isn’t, add some from a just-boiled kettle.
Whisk the mixture with a hand whisk or, better still, an electric one.
Heat the oil and add red chilli, garlic, fenugreek and mustard seeds.
When they sizzle and pop, add the tomatoes and cook for a minute.
Then add the rest of the ingredients except the sugar and lime.
Cook slowly, stirring until the mixture thickens.
Add this to the dhal – be careful as there is some spluttering at this stage.
Chuck in the sugar and cook the dhal for another ten minutes.
Let it rest for ten minutes, then add the lime juice and serve in teacups.
You have a little rice on a plate which you eat while you sip the dhal.