First, rinse the dal, pick through it for any odd bits, and drain. Next, fry the onion and garlic in vegetable oil. Add the turmeric and fenugreek and cook until the house smells like ‘happiness.’
Then (and only then), add the remaining ingredients (let the curry leaves and pandan toast a bit in the oil, if possible). Stir well, so that all the fragrant leaves and cinnamon get under the dal to infuse.
Cover and simmer gently until tender … the longer it cooks, the more the flavors infuse from the curry leaves and pandan. I’d say let it work for no less than 45 minutes… stirring once or twice as you go and adding more water, if needed. I like mine to cook about an hour and fifteen minutes. (I have a feeling this would be awesome in a crock pot.)
Right before serving, splash a bit of coconut milk into the dal, to taste. Check seasonings and add salt as desired.