1 Rinse lentils and cook with water until soft: Place 1 cup of red lentils in a metal sieve. Rinse well with cold water.
Pour cleaned lentils into a medium sauce pan. Add 3 cups of water. Bring lentils and water to a boil.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
2 Blanch and chop the tomatoes: While the lentils are cooking in step 1, bring a separate small pot of water to a boil.
Score the peel of the tomatoes with a sharp knife in the shape of an “X”. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water and blanch for one minute.
Remove the tomatoes to a bowl to cool. Once cool, peel the tomatoes and cut out and discard the tough stem end. Chop the tomatoes, or mash them, and set aside.
3 Sauté onions, garlic paste, spices: After the lentils in step 1 have cooked at least 5 minutes, start preparing the onions and spices.
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions. Cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add garlic paste and cook for 1 minute more, stirring continuously, making sure that the garlic does not burn.
Add the Bengali five spice. Cook and stir for another 2-3 minutes. Add bay leaf and turmeric. Stir.
4 Add cooked lentils, salt: To the onions and spices, add the cooked lentils along with the lentil cooking water. Add salt. Cook for 10 minutes.
5 Add lime juice, tomatoes, cook, then add cilantro: Add lime juice and tomatoes. Cook for 3-5 more minutes. Adjust salt if necessary.
Stir in chopped cilantro and remove from heat. Garnish with more chopped cilantro.
Serve with basmati rice or naan bread.