In a medium saute pan, set over medium heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the diced onions and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt, along with the diced tomato, ground cardamom, tumeric, cumin, coriander and ginger; mix until combined. Stir often and cook until the onions have softened and the spices are really fragrant, about 5 minutes. Mix in the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Transfer the onion mixture a a blender and set aside.
To the same medium sauté pan (no need to wash it out), add the lentils, water and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduct the heat, cover and simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 15 minutes.
To the blender, add about 1/4 lentils (avoid the bay leaves) and pulse until smooth. Pour the onion lentil mixture into the pot with the lentils and stir. Give it a taste—it’ll need salt! I added about a few teaspoons. Know that the more salt it has, the more the other flavors will come out, so be generous, but you know, not too generous.
Serve the dahl over rice. If you love carbs like I do, serve it with warm naan, too. Garnish each bowl with some fresh cilantro.