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
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.
A list of few other delicious dals from the Hyderabadi repertoire:
Suggested Accompaniments: It is a side dish to meals to wet rice and had along with a vegetarian or non-vegetarian side dish.
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