Khatti Dal

Hyderabadi Khatti Dal is kind of like a lentil soup with a slight tangy flavor due to the addition of tamarind concentrate. Tamarind is the traditional souring agent used for the Khatti dal. Sometimes upon its unavailability, lemon/lime juice or raw green mango puree is also used. This distinct and popular dal preparation is usually a side dish at meals in most Hyderabadi households to wet their rice and enjoyed with an another vegetarian or a non-vegetarian side dish.

Tamarind pods – Imli

Hyderabadi Khatti dal is distinct and different from other Indian dals. Khatti dal has origins from the Mughal era of the Qutub Shahs. The North Indians use whole grain dals (sabut dal), and Andhra dals are usually thin and the baghaar (tadka) consists of mustard seeds, whereas Khatti dal has the baghaar of dried red chillies and cumin seeds, and the consistency of the dal is neither too thick or too thin.


The technique of baghaar (in Urdu) reminiscent to Indian cuisine, also often referred to as seasoning/tempering or chaunk/tadka in Hindi is an important step towards flavoring a dish. It helps brings out the best flavors from dry spices. The process involves heating some oil in a small frying pan, to which dry spices are added one by one and stir fried until they pop. This hot oil with spices is then poured, hissing over the partially cooked or completely cooked dish to impart flavors and aroma. As soon as this is done, cover the dish with a lid so as to trap all the aroma and flavor inside. Different spices are used for different dishes. Usually baghaar is done at the end of cooking, but sometimes it is also done right at start or in the middle of cooking a dish.

Baghaar for khatti dal – sliced garlic, curry leaves, dried red chillies and cumin seeds

Below are a few precautions to be taken while doing baghaar:
1. The process requires attention, and takes just a few minutes.
2. Take care not to overheat oil or else spices will burn.
3. Keep a splatter screen nearby before you start the process as few spices begin to pop and jump.


Adding garlic in the baghaar or tempering process for this dal gives it a unique flavor and makes it even more delicious. I like to prepare this dal using Tuvar dal/Yellow lentils or Masoor Dal/Red Lentils.

Imli ki Khatti Dal – Tangy Tamarind Dhal


For the Dal:
Tuvar dal/Yellow lentils or Masoor Dal/Red Lentils – 1 cup
Salt – to taste
Red chilli powder – 1 1/2 tsp
Small green chillies – 4, roughly chopped
Haldi/Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
For Sourness:
Raw tamarind juice or tamarind concentrate – 2 to 3 tbsp or according to taste (if tamarind is unavailable, you can even add lemon/lime juice to taste for sourness)
For the Baghaar(tadka)/Tempering:
Canola Oil – 2 tsp
Garlic Cloves – 2, large, each cut lenghwise into two
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Dred Red chilliies – 2, each broken into two
Fresh/Dried Curry Leaves – 8
Fresh Cilantro – 2 tbsp, finely chopped

Khatti Dal – Sweet and Sour Lentils


1. Wash and soak the dal in surplus water for 2-3 hrs. Later, drain the dal and wash it in fresh changes of water. Drain and add it to a pressure cooker along with 3 cups of fresh cool water, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, chopped green chillies and salt and pressure cook it till the dal is very soft. Pour the contents of the pressure cooker into a blender container and blend it till pureed. (My Ammi used a Dal Ghotni to mash the dal) Or you can even simply puree it using an immersion blender.
2. Meanwhile in a small non stick frying pan at medium heat, pour oil and as soon as it gets warm, add the cumin seeds. As they begin to splutter, cover with a splatter screen and reduce heat to medium low, and throw in the remaining ingredients for baghaar/tempering and remove from heat.
3. Pour the contents of the blender container back into the pressure cooker and bring it to a boil. Add the tamarind juice (or lemon/lime juice), the baghaar, and stir to mix. You can add more water if you want to achieve the consistency you desire. Some people like a thin consistency and some prefer a slightly thick consistency. Adjust salt and serve warm.

Suggested Accompaniments: Khatti dal goes very well along with Tala hua Gosht and Khushka.

This delicious dal is my entry to the event ‘Delicious Dals from India’ being hosted by Suma at her blog Veggie Platter.

A list of few other delicious dals from the Hyderabadi repertoire:

1. Khadi Dal
2. Daalcha
3. Tamatar ki Dal
4. Kairi ki Dal
5. Mitthi Dal


Suggested Accompaniments: It is a side dish to meals to wet rice and had along with a vegetarian or non-vegetarian side dish.

A while ago Meeso of For the Love Of Food! awarded me with the ‘Rockin Girl Blogger’ award. I rock! 🙂 Thanks Meeso.

I pass on this award to all those talented bloggers in this ever growing world of food blogosphere.


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16 Responses to “Khatti Dal”

  1. Just perfect. I love staple dal dishes like this one.

  2. It looks so simple and delicious and I love the flavor of tamarind!

  3. I love dhal and this is tantlizing my taste buds for sure!

  4. Looks lovely Mona. I seem to have lost your site – now found and duly bookmarked!

  5. Congrats on your awards mona.
    Khatti Dal looks so simple & easy to make 🙂

  6. Congrats on the award.
    I make this toor dal , but I havent pureed it. And haven’t used the lemon. I am trying this out. 🙂 .

  7. This soup sounds tasty. I like the use of tamarind in it.

  8. Love it Mona! the combo od Khatti daal with Seekh kababs.. awesome!

  9. I just made this and it was DELICIOUS. Thanks for posting the recipe! I <3 your blog!

  10. hi mona,
    i was just going thru the recipes on the net today and found ur recipes……u have done an amazing job dear….really good work…thumbs up

  11. salaam mona,
    your recipes are simple and turn out fabulous,
    reminds me of my moms hyderabadi flavours

  12. Dear Mona,

    Is it necessary to soak masoor dal as well? It normally gets cooked very fast even on stove-top. Please clarify.

    Latha, it is not necessary to soak masoor dal. Just make sure you wash it in several changes of water before use.

  13. Dear Mona,
    I came across a recipe for Khatti Dal, where the lentils are boiled with a few stems of curry leaves.
    Is this a usually followed step for the making of Khatti Dal? Waiting for your reply, and my very best wishes.

  14. Aseem Saxena Says:

    Dear Mona,

    I do not get tamarind paste… I get seedless paste…

    Can you tell me the size of ball to use and in how much water do I dissolve it?



    Aseem, take a lemon sized ball of the tamarind and soak it in about a cup or two or warm water to dissolve and make a paste.

  15. Aseem Saxena Says:

    Green chilies… do they boil with the daal or do they go in the baghaar…


    Aseem, I have updated the post, sorry for the typo.

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