Wash 1 cup red lentils (masoor dal) well with water 2-3 times.
Drain the water and add the dal to a pressure cooker.
Note – You can also cook the dal in an instant pot (PRESSURE COOK for 8 mins on high pressure) or in a pot over stovetop (30-40 minutes on medium heat).
Add 3 and ½ cups of water, salt to taste, and ½ tsp turmeric powder to the cooker and close the lid. Pressure cook for one whistle on high heat.
Simmer the heat to low and cook for 8-10 minutes.
Remove the cooker from heat and let the pressure release naturally. Open the lid and whisk the dal well using a wire whisk.
Heat 2 tbsp mustard oil in a small pan.
Once the oil is hot, add 2 whole bay leaves, 2 whole dry red chilies, and 1 tsp panch phoran and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.
Add ½ cup sliced onion and fry on medium heat until onion turns slightly browned,5-6 minutes. Keep stirring at regular intervals while frying.
Pour the tempering over the dal and mix well.
Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot.
You can skip onion and make plain masoor dal for a No Onion No Garlic version.Add ¼ cup sliced tomato while pressure cooking the dal for a taste change.Temper the dal only with mustard oil, to give it that authentic Bengali taste.Use fresh homemade panch phoran masala for the best taste.Add more water if you like thinner dal.