Hyderabadi Khatti Dal – Simple, Flavoursome, Authentic 

Aadaab to all my readers!

When you talk about Hyderabadi cuisine, Biryani tops the chart for most food lovers. Although the Dum Biryani stands out on the Hyderabai menu, other authentic Hyderabadi dishes are equally enjoyable.

The traditional Khatti Dal

One such simple and palatable Hyderabadi dish is the traditional Khatti Dal (Sour lentils dish). It is extremely popular with the Hyderabadis and it’s almost a perpetual fixture on the dining table at any Hyderabadi household.

As the name suggests, this typical Hyderabadi Dal or lentils is tangy and tasty and is seasoned with curry leaves, garlic, cumin and dried red chillies. Tamarind pulp is the main ingredient when preparing the Dal as it gives it the sharp, sour flavor. You can substitute lemon juice for tamarind pulp if you do not have or get tamarind in the area you live.

There are several different types of Indian lentils available in the market. You can make Khati Dal with either the yellow lentils (Toor Dal) or the orange/red lentils (Masoor Dal). So if you are making the Dal for the first time, don’t get confused as to which lentil to use.

For all those tempted to try out the traditional Khatti dal, here is the full recipe and how to make it. You can’t get an easier dish than this.


INGREDIENTS                                     Serves 6-8                                                                                       

Lentils (yellow or orange, pick your favourite) 100 grams
Water 250/300 ML (enough to cook the dal)
Red chilli powder 1-1.5 TSP
Turmeric powder 1 TSP
Ginger-Garlic paste About 1/2 TBSP
Salt To taste
Pulp of tamarind ½-1 cup (adjust the sourness as per taste)
Green chilies 2
Fresh coriander Finely chopped, a handful



Oil 1 TBSP
Cumin seeds (Zeera) 1 TSP
Dried red chillies 3-4
Curry leaves 8-10
Chopped garlic 4-5 (I love garlic so I add more)


 How to make the Khatti Dal

  1. Wash the Lentils under running water.
  2. Put the washed lentils in a pressure cooker, add adequate water, ginger-garlic paste, red chili powder, salt, turmeric powder. Let it pressure cook up to 3-4 whistles.
  3. Check if the lentils are tender. You can use a hand blender to puree them further.
  4. Put the cooked Dal vessel back on the stove. Add the prepared tamarind pulp (see notes below), the green chilies and coriander and let it cook for about 10-15 minutes. Keep tasting the dal while it’s cooking and adjust the sourness accordingly. Add some water if you find your Dal to be thick, however do not make it too watery.
  5. Once the Dal comes to a boil, simmer the stove and let it cook for about another minute. Turn the heat off.
  6. After cooking the Dal, it’s time to finish it with the bagaar or seasoning.
  7. For the seasoning, heat the oil in a small pan. Add the garlic and wait for it to turn slightly brown. Add the cumin seeds, curry leaves and dried red chillies and sauté in the oil until the chillies change colour. Turn the heat off.
  8. Add the freshly made bagaar or seasoning to the cooked dal. Put a lid on the dal immediately and leave the lid on for a few minute to retain the fresh seasoning flavor in it.

Enjoy the delicious Khatti Dal with plain steamed rice, pickles and some papadams. It is also a great compliment with the Hyderabadi Talawa Goshth.

Helpful notes:

  • To make the Tamarind pulp or Tamarind water, take raw tamarind and soak it in water for a few minutes. Once the tamarind starts to become soft and the water changes colour, squeeze it with your hand and extract as much pulp as you can. Add this pulp to the pressure cooked Dal.
  • If you are short of time, then simply add the raw tamarind to a bowl of water and microwave it for a minute. Once cooled down, make the pulp.
  • A lot of people add tomatoes as well to the Dal while pressure cooking, it for more tang and flavour. Although the tamarind pulp should be your main tang contributor.

Adding the bagaar to the Dal

My mouth is already watering, I know you are excited to try it out too. Do give the Khatti Dal a go and tell me what you think about it.

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