Wash the toor /arhar dal/ split pigeon peas for 2-3 times with water. Soak the dal for 2-3 hours in plenty of water.
After 2-3 hours, pressure cook the soaked dal for 4-5 whistles on high heat and 2 whistles on low heat. (I have put the container of soaked dal in the pressure cooker along with water in the cooker and then have pressure cooked it).
Once the pressure cooker cools down, remove the dal container from the cooker. Stir the dal with hand whisk till it is nice and smooth. You can also use a hand blender to make it smoother.
Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they crackle and splutter, add star anise. (star anise gives a very nice flavor the dish, however adding it is optional). Add asafoetida. Now add chopped garlic, curry leaves, green chilies and dry red chili.
Saute the garlic till nice and aromatic.
Add the finely chopped onion and little salt and saute till the onion is translucent and soft.
Add chopped tomatoes and saute till they soften.
Season the mixture with turmeric powder, red chili powder and coriander cumin powder. Saute the spices till they are nicely roasted.
Add the cooked and mashed toor dal and mix well.
Add water and salt.
Bring the dal to boil for 2-3 minutes. (Do not boil the dal longer, it will lose it taste).
Add chopped coriander and mix well and boil.
The simple toor dal or phodina cha varan is ready to serve. Serve it hot with rice, roti and subj for a complete meal.
Garnish with coriander and serve hot.