Put a small frying pan over a medium heat and add 2 tsp cumin seeds. Shake in the pan for 1-2 mins until fragrant and just lightly toasted. Set aside to cool slightly. Measure out 1 tsp crushed chillies and 2 tsp turmeric and mix with the cumin seeds. Peel 3 garlic cloves and an 8cm piece ginger. Finely chop the garlic and cut the ginger into 4 chunky pieces.
Put 300g yellow split peas in a large lidded pan or flameproof casserole dish and cover with 1.3ltr cold water. Bring to a simmer over a medium-high heat. If any foam rises to the top of the liquid, skim this off with a spoon.
Once at a simmer, reduce the heat to low. Stir in the spices, garlic and ginger, cover with a lid and simmer gently for 1 hr.
Remove the lid and stir gently. Cook for another 20 mins without the lid to allow the split peas to become fully tender. At this point the dhal should be thick and creamy but can be loosened with a splash of water if preferred – for example, if serving as a soup rather than a side dish or curry main.
Just before the end of the cooking time, put a small pan over a medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil (or any other cooking oil). Finely slice 3 garlic cloves and add these to the hot oil, frying for 2-3 mins until caramelised and browned.
Stir the garlic slices and flavoured oil into the dhal and season to taste. Remove and discard the pieces of ginger.
The dhal can be served hot or cooled completely and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. The dhal will thicken slightly as it cools, so stir in a splash of water when reheating to reach your preferred consistency. The dhal can be served on its own as a side dish or with lots of delicious accompaniments for a main. Scatter over some chopped fresh coriander, spring onions or red chilli, add a dollop of natural yogurt (or dairy-free alternative, if required), then serve with cooked basmati rice or flatbreads.