Hyderabadi Khatti (Sour) Dal


A couple centuries ago Garam Masala and the famous Dum Pukht (slow cooking) style of the Persians met the sourness of tamarind and the sweetness of coconut of the local Telugus and the delectable Hyderabadi cuisine was born. While Hyderabad is most famous for its Biryani and Haleem, which is a staple for any kind of celebration, everyday Hyderabadi food is just as delicious.

Khatti dal is one of my favorites, add some steamed basmati rice, talahuva bhindi (fried okra) and we are gold!

Time for Prep: 10 mins     Time to Cook: 25 mins      Yield: 6 Servings     Level: Easy

For the Dal:

  • 1 cup toor dal (pigeon pea)/masoor dal (red lentils)
  • 3-4 Green Chilli Peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 inch Ginger Root, grated
  • 4-5 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped.
  • 6-7 Shallots, Cut
  • 1/2 tsp Salt (or more depending on your personal taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder/cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste (or soak 1 inch chunk of Tamarind in water)

For Tempering:

  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 2-3 dried red chillies
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)

For Garnish:

  • 2 tbsp fresh Cilantro, chopped


Cooking the Dal:

  1. Rinse and soak the lentils for 30-40 mins.
    1. Drain the water, transfer it to the cooking pot. To this add the half of  chopped onions and tomatoes, all of the green chillies, ginger, garlic, salt and turmeric. Add 3 cups of water.
    2. Cook on high heat till you get a boil, then reduce heat to medium and let cook till the lentils are soft. If the dal is too thick, you can add more water to get desirable consistency. Check salt and add more if needed based on taste. (or) use a pressure cooker and cook for 10-12 mins.
  2. Heat 1 tsp oil in a heavy bottom pan, add the other half of tomatoes and sauté for 7-8 mins.
  3. Add the tomatoes and chill powder, cook for another 2-3 mins, or till the tomatoes get soft.
  4. Add the cooked dal and tamarind paste/water and let it boil for 2-3 mins. You can add more water if needed to get desired consistency.


  1. Heat Ghee in a small pan. Add the curry leaves, cumin, mustard seeds and dried red chillies. Let it crackle.
  2. Add the Garlic and cook till you smell the aroma.
  3. Pour this entire tempering, along with the ghee in to the cooked dal and mix it in. You can also serve with the tempering on top of it.

Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.


  • I prefer plum Tomatoes for this recipe because of their meatiness.
  • I use Shallots because they integrate better and have a milder flavor, you can use 1 regular onion if thats what you have in your pantry.
  • Oil can be used instead of Ghee for the tempering.

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