Please don't sub brown lentils for this, the red lentils have a very different texture. Serve with rice and lemon wedges. Adapted from The Best International Recipe Cookbook. I have provided a varitation using coconut milk.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat until it shimmers. Add the spices and saute until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Stir in onion and cook till softened, 5-7 minutes. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook till fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Now stir in the water and lentils. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the lentils are tender and resemble a coarse puree, 20-25 minutes. (At this point, you may refrigerate the lentils in an airtight container up to 2 days. Reheat over medium low heat before continuing).
Stir in tomatoes, cilantro, and butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving. Enjoy!
Substitute 1 cup coconut milk for 1 cup of the water and omit butter. Using coconut milk makes for a lush, creamy texture and rich flavor. Don't use light coconut milk. You can freeze any leftover coconut milk.