If you compliment something I am wearing and it's something I have borrowed I will tell you in lame detail how it is not mine, who I borrowed it from, how awesome their taste is etc. So it is unsurprising that I feel obliged to share some things with you about this Khatti Dal. Number one I am not Hyderabadi. Meaning, this recipe is not my mothers or grandmothers. Number two this recipe is actually my SILs. Guess what? She is not Hyderabadi either. I recognize that I risk offending some of you who are Hyderabadi. That is what has held me back from sharing this recipe here. That said I have been 'secretly' sharing it for a while. It's travelled via email or Instagram for many years and after a while this whole lack of the right pedigree seems silly. I mean I am neither Mexican nor Thai and lots of those recipes abound here too!
The word Khatta means sour. It is a flavour I really like - lemon, lime, grapefruit, anything that hits that note really does it for me. I suspect that this recipe is traditionally made with Imli (Tamarind) which yields a well rounded sweet and sour profile. My mothers Masoor Dal with it's tomato-ey goodness also hits those notes, but this recipe is quite different.
What makes this Khatti Dal Special
The biggest difference between this Khatti Dal and any other recipe on the blog is the Baghaar. Baghaar - also known as Tadka - is that tempering of chillies and cumin seeds that transforms all dals. For this Khatti Dal the Baghaar is for lack of better word, burnt. The dried whole red chillies are blackened as are the cumin seeds. Trust me when I say the final result is incredible. There is something about those smoky notes against the turmeric-lemon profile of this dal that bring the whole dish to life in an addictive hide the leftovers in the fridge kinda way.
Leftover dal is one of those dishes that I think of as a gift I give myself. Kinda how most people feel when their online shopping packages show up at their door. This Khatti Dal is even better the next day and it is freezer friendly.
Making this Khatti Dal recipe? Don't forget to share what you think! You can rate the recipe right on the recipe card below! Also do tag me on instagram @flourandspiceblog with your recreations or leave a comment below!
- 1 cup masoor dal (red lentils)
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ¾ tsp sugar
- Juice of 1-2 lemons
Baghaar/ Tadka/ Tempering
- 3-4 tbsp oil
- 5-6 dried red chillies (whole)
- ¾ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- Boil the dal, 4 cups water, salt, turmeric, red chilli powder and sugar together till the dal is completely tender. You want it to look fairly smooth
- Add the juice of one lemon and taste, if it is not overtly sour with well rounded notes of spice and salt then adjust seasoning and add more lemon juice.
Baghaar/ Tadka / Tempering
- Heat about 3 tbsp of oil in a small frying pan
- Add the dried red chillies and cumin seeds
- Cook on medium heat till the chillies are black on all sides
- Carefully add in your sprig of curry leaves (they will splutter!)
- Immediately pour your baghaar over the dal
Want to save it for later? Pin the Khatti Dal recipe below!