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Bengal coconut dal

I have done away with fresh coconut because dried is so much easier, but if you have the time, fresh coconut is tastier.

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  • 1.2 litres/2 pints water
  • 250g/9oz chana dhal (also called Bengal gram lentils), thoroughly cleaned
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 heaped tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • salt, to taste
  • 2-3 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp mustard oil, unsalted butter or ghee
  • 5 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5 cloves
  • 1cm/½in cinnamon stick
  • ½ tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1-2 dried red chillies
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 heaped tbsp flaked or desiccated coconut or ¼ small fresh coconut, flesh chopped into small cubes