Soak the dal in enough water to cover for at least 2 hours. Drain and set aside. In a food processor, mince the garlic, ginger, and chili. Add the drained dal and mince again, adding 1/4 cup of water to achieve a fairly smooth paste. Take care not to add too much water--it will make the dumplings difficult to shape.
Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add the onions, dill, curry leaves, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Warm oil for deep-frying in a wok or deep fryer set over medium-high heat. With your fingers, make rounded walnut-size balls of the dal mixture and drop them gently into the hot oil, spooning some over the dumplings to seal them. When the underside has browned lightly, gently turn them to cook on the other side. Cook for a few minutes until lightly golden all over. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.
Recipe courtesy CUISINES OF INDIA (Ecco Press, 2001) by Smita Chandra and Sanjeev Chandra