Wash and soak dal in three cups of water for fifteen minutes. Drain, spread on a large thali or plate and leave it to dry. Heat ghee in a kadai. Add baby onions and fry lightly till brown. Add cumin seeds, chopped tomato, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and cook the masala for few minutes.
Add the dal, sugar and panch phoron powder with two cups of water and continue cooking, covered on medium heat. Take care that the dal is not mashed but remains whole. It should be dry with practically no gravy. Serve hot.
Panch Phoron powder is made by lightly roasting equal quantities of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds and onion seeds and powdering them.