Begin with thoroughly rinsing the red lentils until the water runs clear.
Place the roughly chopped shallots/red onion, 3 garlic cloves, peppercorns and 5 curry leaves in a mortar. Crush slightly with the pestle, enough to just roughly crush them rather than making them a paste.
Place a pot on medium fire, add the lentils with about 200 ml water,1 clove of garlic crushed and finely chopped, 1/2 amount of curry leaves and all the seeds. Reduce the heat as soon as the lentils start boiling.
Cook the lentils (partially covered) for about 10-12 minutes.
Remove the lid, add the crushed ingredients from the mortar mix, add more water and the coconut milk and salt. Cook for a further 10-12 minutes stirring occasionally and add more water if needed. It can stick very quickly so keep an eye and a hand on it.
When almost finished cooking, add the ginger and stir again. Cook for 3 minutes and remove from the heat.
Drizzle the lemon juice, mix for the last time.
Garnish with some more red chili flakes if you want some extra heat, or some coriander leaves if you prefer.
Shallots can be replaced by 2 small or 1 medium/large red onion.Tomatoes (about 2 medium ones) chopped roughly could be added, I sometimes (for variation) add one handful of butternut squashed- chopped or 1 carrot also chopped into chunkier chunks.Instead of coconut milk, you can add dairy milk (full fat) and a bit of double cream at the end. Superb!!As I said, you can fry the onions/shallots (if you wish) with the chili and the seeds and add at the end. It is very tasty indeed.The secret to a good dhal is the low heat that should be cooked on and if you happen to have a mud pot to cook it in, it would be even better. ? ??