Sort and wash the dal until the water runs clear. Place the dal in a soup pot and add water to cover by about 2 inches. Add the turmeric and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the dal is soft and beginning to fall apart. Add more water if the dal is too thick.
Heat the oil in a frying pan. Mince the garlic, coarsely chop the jalapenos (remove the seeds if you don't want the dal to be very hot). Add the garlic and jalapenos to the oil, along with the cumin seeds, garam masala and salt. Saute for a few minutes, until the garlic begins to brown. Add this mixture to the dal. Mix well (you may need to add a little dal to the frying pan and pour this back into the pot to get all the spices out of the pan). Simmer for another 20 minutes or so to blend all the flavors well. Adjust salt, if desired. Top with chopped cilantro for garnish if desired. Serve hot, with bread as a light main course, or incorporate into a full Indian dinner.