This is one of my favorite recipes with red lentils. It's really good with stir-fried greens and naan (Central Asian, of course).
1 cup red lentils, washed
5 cups water
1-2 tablespoons tamarind pulp, chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 tsp each of coriander, cumin, cayenne, and turmeric
1 tablespoon minced or mashed garlic
1 1/2 cups sliced onions
1/2 tsp salt
Limes or lemons
the lentils and water in a qazan or heavy pot and bring to a boil,
skimming as it comes to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30
minutes, covering it for the last 10 minutes (the cooking time is really
flexible; the lentils will be soft in 20 minutes, but you can cook them
for up to 40 minutes if you want the texture smoother and you can blend
them too if you want). While it's simmering, put the tamarind in a
small bowl and scoop 1/4 cup of hot water from the lentils and mix it
with the pulp. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes.
the oil in a wok or pot or qazan over medium-high heat, then add the
spices and stir-fry for 10 seconds, then add the garlic and onions and
stir-fry for at least 10 minutes, lowering the heat a little as you
cook until the onions are very soft.
When the lentils
are as cooked as you want them, press the tamarind pulp through a
strainer into the lentils (discard the pulp). Add the onions and salt
and more water if you want to, again depending on the consistency you want. Cook for 5
minutes, then taste to adjust the seasonings if you need to. Serve
with lime wedges (or lemons if limes aren't available) so your guests
can squeeze the juice onto their lentils.