Khatti Dal is a perfect example of a dish which proves that Hyderabadi cuisine is much more than just biryanis and salans. The Khatti Dal recipe is one of the most popular vegetarian lentil dishes made from split pigeon peas or arhar/tuvar dal, not just in the city of its origin but also other neighboring states like Andhra Pradesh. I’ve got the easy recipe for you right here. Give this a try, it’s going to be a favorite of yours in no time!
What is Khatti Dal
The word khatti translates to ‘sour’ or ‘tangy‘ in English. So, the exact translation of Khatti Dal is ‘sour lentils‘ or ‘tangy lentils‘.
The dal is cooked first till the desired consistency and then tempered. The tamarind (imli) brings in the sourness and makes it a unique dish.
But don’t worry about the tangy taste as this Khatti Dal recipe is just as creamy, smooth and delicious as any other lentil recipe.
You may have to get accustomed and develop a taste for this dal, but trust me, once you do its only going to be a repeat in your diet.
Like many other lentil recipes, Khatti Dal is loaded with nutrition too as tuvar dal is a rich source of proteins, iron, B complex vitamins, fiber, folate and potassium.
I have cooked the lentils in a stovetop pressure cooker. But I do give the instructions on cooking them in a pan or pot in the notes section of the recipe card below. You could also opt to cook the lentils in an Instant Pot.
This Khatti Dal recipe has been adapted from the cookbook Dastarkhan-e-Moghlai: 101 Easy to Cook Hyderabadi Recipes by Geeta Devi.
This book is a compendium of many traditional, rare as well as familiar vegetarian and non-vegetarian Hyderabadi delicacies. A must buy, and I totally recommend it to anyone and everyone who is a lover of this food repertoire or even otherwise.
How to make Khatti Dal
Cook the Lentils
1. Rinse 1 cup arhar dal/tuvar dal (split pigeon peas) a couple of times in water and then drain all the water.
2. In a 3 litre pressure cooker, add the rinsed tuvar dal and ½ cup chopped tomatoes or 1 medium-sized tomato, chopped.
3. Next add 1 inch peeled ginger which is grated or finely chopped. Also, add 2 medium-sized garlic cloves that are grated or minced or crushed.
4. Also add a pinch of turmeric powder.
5. Then pour 2.5 cups water.
6. Pressure cook the dal on medium heat for 7 to 8 whistles or more, or till the lentils are fully cooked and mushy.
7. Meanwhile soak 1 tablespoon seedless tamarind in ½ cup hot water for 20 minutes.
8. Then squeeze the pulp from the tamarind directly into the same bowl in which tamarind was soaked.
9. When the pressure falls naturally in the cooker, then only open the lid.
10. Mash the dal with a madani, wooden spoon or hand blender till smooth.
Make Khatti Dal
11. Strain the tamarind pulp and add to the dal.
12. Stir and mix well.
13. Next add 2 to 3 chopped or slit green chilies and ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder.
14. Also add ½ teaspoon red chili powder and 1 teaspoon coriander powder.
15. Mix very well.
16. Pour ¾ or 1 cup water or as needed.
17. Also add salt as required and stir to mix.
18. Keep the dal on a low heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or till the raw aroma of the tamarind goes away, the flavors have blended well and the dal has reached a medium consistency.
19. Cover and keep the cooked dal aside.
20. Measure and keep all the ingredients ready for making tempering:
- 12 to 15 curry leaves
- 3 to 4 tablespoons ghee or oil
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 6 to 8 small to medium-sized garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 to 3 dried red chilies – broken and seeds removed
21. Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of ghee or oil in a small frying pan. Let the ghee melt on low heat.
22. Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and let the seeds crackle.
23. Then add 6 to 8 garlic cloves which are finely chopped.
24. Fry chopped garlic for 4 to 5 seconds on low heat.
25. Then add 2 to 3 dried red chilies, 12 to 15 curry leaves and 1 pinch asafoetida (hing).
26. Fry for some seconds on low heat, till the red chilies change their color and the curry leaves become crisp.
27. Pour this entire tempering mixture over the dal.
28. Stir to combine.
29. Cover and keep aside the Khatti Dal for 5 to 6 minutes for the flavors to mingle.
30. Serve Khatti Dal with steamed basmati rice, cumin rice, saffron rice or roti.
- Use lentils that are within their shelf life and fresh. Do not use aged lentils as they take a lot of time to cook and do not taste good.
- When you add the tempering to the dal, it should have the right consistency, that is, it should be medium to slightly thick. Remember that on cooling, the dal will become thicker.
- If the Khatti Dal becomes thick after its pressure cooked, then add some water to thin it. The consistency of the dal can always be adjusted by adding less or more water after its cooked.
- You can make a vegan version of this dal by using any neutral oil instead of ghee.
Please be sure to rate the recipe in the recipe card or leave a comment below if you have made it. For more vegetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.
Khatti Dal | Hyderabadi Khatti Dal
Pressure cooking lentils
- 1 cup tuvar dal (tur dal or arhar dal)
- 2.5 cups water – for pressure cooking the lentils
- ½ cup tomatoes – chopped or 1 medium-sized tomato
- 1 inch ginger peeled and finely chopped or grated
- 2 garlic cloves medium-sized, grated or crushed or minced
- 1 pinch turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
- 1 tablespoon tamarind (seedless), soaked in ½ cup hot water for 20 minutes
- 2 to 3 green chilies chopped or slit – add as required depending on the hotness of the chilies
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder (ground coriander)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper
- ¾ to 1 cup water to be added later or add as required
- salt as required
- 3 to 4 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter) or oil
- 2 to 3 dried red chilies – kept whole or broken and deseeded – add as required
- 6 to 8 garlic cloves – small to medium-sized, finely chopped
- 12 to 15 curry leaves
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
Cooking the lentils
- Rinse the lentils a few times in water.
- In a 3 litre pressure cooker, cook the lentils with the tomatoes, garlic, ginger, turmeric powder, 2.5 cups water for 7-8 whistles or more till the lentils are tender and mushy.
- When the pressure settles down naturally in the cooker, then only open the lid.
- Mash the dal with a madani, wooden spoon or hand blender till fine and smooth.
- Meanwhile when the dal is cooking, soak tamarind in hot water for 20 minutes.
- Squeeze the pulp from the tamarind directly into its bowl of water.
- Strain the tamarind pulp and add to the dal.
- Also add the green chilies, turmeric, red chili powder and coriander powder. Stir in ¾ or 1 cup water along with salt.
- Keep the dal on a low heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or till the raw aroma of the tamarind goes away, all the flavors have blended well and the dal has reached a medium consistency.
- Cover and keep the cooked dal aside.
- Heat ghee or oil in a small frying pan. Keep heat to a low. Crackle the cumin seeds first.
- Then add the garlic and fry for 4 to 5 seconds on low heat. Add the dried red chilies, curry leaves and asafoetida.
- On low heat fry till the red chilies change their color and the curry leaves become crisp.
- Pour this entire tempering mixture over the khatti dal and stir to combine.
- Cover and keep aside the dal for 5 to 6 minutes for the flavors to mingle.
- Serve Hyderabadi Khatti Dal with steamed basmati rice, jeera rice, saffron rice or roti.
- Rinse and soak the lentils for at least an hour.
- Boil 3 to 4 cups water with a pinch of turmeric. Add the drained lentils.
- Whilst cooking remove the scum with a spoon. Cook the lentils till the lentils have become soft and mushy. Add more hot water if required while cooking.
- Once the lentils are cooked, you can add the tomatoes, etc. and simmer till the tomatoes are cooked and then proceed with the recipe.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Khatti Dal from the archives first published in August 2013 has been republished and updated on December 2022.