Soak the masoor dal in a bowl with water for 1 hour. Drain water from lentils.
In a saucepan, combine soaked and drained lentils, water, bay leaf, ground turmeric and salt. Bring to boiling then reduce heat to medium high. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until lentils are tender and the water has evaporated.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Add the olive oil to a small saucepan, heat to medium high. Once oil has heated, add dried red chili pepper and cumin seeds to oil. As cumin seeds sizzle, as the asafoetida. Then add the curry leaves to the hot oil (stand back as the oil splatters). Cook the curry leaves for 1 minute, remove from heat and add the seasoned oil the cooling lentils.
Serve warm with the juice of a lime. Best with a naan or roti and fried chili peppers.