Heat coconut oil or ghee in a deep 2-litre saucepan over medium-low. Add cumin seeds, curry leaves and chillies. Fry for a few seconds until the cumin seeds start browning. Reduce heat to low and add the lentils. Fry on low, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes until lentils are glossy and turning a shade richer.
Add spices and salt. Mix well. Add water and increase heat to medium-low. Cook uncovered for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Top up with half a cup of water if most of it has evaporated. Cover and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the lentils are cooked and creamy. The consistency of the daal should be like a thick soup.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with crusty sourdough or steamed rice.
Chilli - I will often chop a small green chilli or a small green capsicum and use that instead of 2 whole chillies in this recipe. It adds a lovely, slightly smokey flavour to the daal. When I do this, additionally I like to pan fry a sprig of curry leaves and a whole chilli or two in a bit of ghee and add it to the cooked daal as a garnish. It looks absolutely beautiful and smells divine.