Dal (lentil) is a staple of North Indian cooking, and its flavor results from the last minute addition of a tadka (aka baghar, aka phoron), spices briefly fried in hot ghee and then added to the dal at the very last minute. Or to be on the safe side, the dal is added to the spices.
I know there are dozens of different possible tadkas, but I haven't found a definitive list, nor some formula to match a tadka ingredient with a particular dal. What are some of your favorite dal/tadka combinations? What are combinations to avoid?
I'll kick it off with some suggestions from a Bengali friend:
1) Masoor dal
Tadka: "panch phoron," whole dried red chilis, sliced garlic
2) Moong dal
Tadka: ginger, jeera (cumin) seeds, garam masala
3) Moong dal
Tadka: hing (asafoetida), jeera (cumin) seeds, ginger, whole dried red chilis
Avoid: adding salt or any raw ingredients to the dal until it is finished cooking.