Dal are lentils and the type of lentils you use in this recipe are red lentils. Red lentils are actually coral colored and they turn yellow when you cook them. They tend to break down a bit which gives this dish its creamy texture. They are also faster cooking than brown lentils.
I got this recipe from an Afghani website and we make it fairly frequently. It is economical, nutritious, and delicious! Adding a base of raw kale and a portion of rice makes it quite filling. We made a double recipe yesterday since our daughter was eating with us but we still have plenty left over for a couple of lunches.
I added some plain yogurt on top of mine since John is in charge of the spices and I know his spice level is higher than mine. The yogurt is a nice cooling element. But if you want to keep it vegan skip the yogurt or use a plant-based yogurt.