"Dal" in Indian cooking refers to porridge like dishes made from dried legumes, usually split peas or lentils. Dal is often served in a thinned state as a soup, but equally often it will be a thick, hearty side dish. This is a thick dal, comprehensive and highly spiced enough to be the focus of a meal. From one of the Moosewood cookbooks. Prep time includes 2 hours for cooking dried split peas. Serve with rice and raita.