Arhar Ki Khatti Dal – made in the Lucknowi style. I can’t describe how good this dal tastes. This is the first time I’m making or even tasting this kind of sour lentils, and believe me, I realise what I have been missing in all these years of eating dal and rice at least 3 times a week. The standard favourite at my home is the simple jeera dal – arhar/towar dal well cooked but not mushy, tempered with garlic, cumin seeds and nigella seed and a fresh red chilli. Now I think the Arhar ki khatti dal is going to take over as the new favourite.
If you check online most of the recipes you find will be for the Hyderabadi khatti dal. Both the Hyderabadi and Lucknowi ones are similar as to process and ingredients, but not the same – there are differences. For one, the Lucknow version usually has kala jeera/black cumin and does not use tomatoes, at least so far as I can tell from talking to friends from Lucknow and from a perusal of cookbooks and online recipes. The use of kala jeera (not to be confused with kalonji or nigella seeds which are shown online in some sites, and in some stores, as being the same as kala jeera) in dals and curries is a culinary tradition from the time of the Mughals and in Awadhi cuisine.
The Arhar ki khatti Dal in this recipe is broadly adapted from Chand Sur & Sunita Kohli’s The Lucknow Cookbook. The garnish of raw peanuts is borrowed straight from the recipe for Khatti Arhar ki Dal in this book.
This recipe is my first post in participating with the FB Group, FoodieMondayBlogHop. Mayuri Patel added me to the group this week and I was happy to see several blogger friends already there. The way the group works is that a theme is selected and put to vote by members in turn each week, and we all cook as per the theme and post the recipe on the immediate Monday following the theme choice. Priya Iyer who blogs at The Girl Next Door. selected the theme for this week: Traditional Indian Dals. We had a good discussion on what is or is not a Dal and decided that any kind of dal including a rasam or sambar or a dal made of peas and not lentils is still a Dal for the purpose of this event! I played safe and chose this Lucknowi Arhar ki khatti Dal as it gave me an opportunity to plan something unfamiliar.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and that you will try out this delicious Dal – Arhar ki Khatti Dal from Lucknow’s vast and interesting cuisine.
This post has been sent to the Event:
Arhar Ki Khatti Dal - Lucknowi Khatti Dal - Sour Lentil Stew
For Cooking Arhar Dal - Slit pigeon pea Lentils
- 1 cup Arhar dal /split pigeon pea lentils/ Tuvar Dal
- ¼ teaspoon Haldi/ Turmeric Powder
- 2 cups water - For Pressure cooking.
- 1 teaspoon dhania/ coriander powder
- ½ teaspooon red chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon salt - or to taste
- 1 tablespoon ginger and garlic pounded together - /coarse paste
- ½ cup lukewarm water - to add to the dal if it becomes dry
For Tamarind extract
- 1 ½ tablespoons tamarind - / a Lemon sized ball of Tamarind
- ½ cup water - for soaking the tamarind
For Tempering/ Tadka
- 1 tablespoon ghee / clarified butter
- 1 teaspoon jeera
- ¼ teaspoon kala jeera/ black cumin seeds - (check that you are using kala jeera and not nigella/ kalaonji as very often kalaonji is sold as black jeera and the two are different spices)
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup onion - sliced
- 1-2 dry red chilli
- ⅛ teaspoon asafoetida hing powder - about a pinch
- 1 tablespoon curry leaves - shredded
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves - minced
- 2 tablespoons raw peanuts
- ½ cup water - to soak the peanuts
Preparations for making Arhar ki khatti dal
- Pressure cook the dal: Rinse, drain and soak the arhar dal for 15 minutes. This step is optional, but I find it helps the dal cook faster and reach the consistency required. Add the haldi powder and water as in the ingredients list above 'For Cooking Arhar Dal'. Pressure cook for 1-2 whistles, and open the cooker only when it has cooled down - about 15 minutes after you have turned off the stove.The dal should be soft and well cooked. Strain the dal in a colander after opening the cooker, and reserve the dal water (don't discard it!) Mash the cooked dal using a wire whisk or wooden masher.
- While the dal is being cooked, complete the preparations: Soak the Tamarind in water for at least 15 minutes. If the tamarind is rolled into a ball, it is easier to subsequently discard. After it has soaked as above, squeeze the tamarind to extract the maximum juice, and remove from the water. We are using just ½ a cup of water so that we get a thick extract. Set the tamarind extract aside till required.
- Soak peanuts in water as in the ingredients list for Garnish. Allow to soak till required for garnish.
- Mince onion, coriander leaves and shred the curry leaves. You will find we are going to use garlic in two places while cooking - once as a ginger garlic paste and once with the whole cloves. For the ginger garlic paste (1 tablespoon as in the ingredients list), pound together about 1 cm piece of ginger and 2 cloves of garlic in a mortar and pestle so you get a coarse paste. Gently crush the cloves of garlic that you are going to use in the tempering/ tadka, keeping them whole.
How to make Lucknowi Arhar Ki Khatti Dal
- Set a pan on the stove and add the strained and mashed dal, coriander and chilli powders as per the ingredients list. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt. You can add more salt towards the end if required. Add the tamarind extract. Add the ginger garlic paste. Stir it all together.
- Bring the dal to a boil and then simmer on low for 15 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind has gone.As the water level reduces, add the reserved dal water slowly to the insides of the pan so that it gets warm by the time it reaches the dal, and blends in readily. Keep stirring frequently as the dal is likely to catch at the bottom of the pan and char/burn. Keep some lukewarm water ready. If the dhal again looks dry, add the water a little at a time to the insides of the pan and stir it in. You want a fluid and yet thick dal when you are done. Taste for salt and add more if required. Remove the pan from the stove and immediately transfer the arhar ki khatti dal to a serving dish, so that it stops cooking further.
To Temper/ add Tadka to the Dal
- Heat Ghee (the ghee really brings out the flavours of the dal, so use upto 2 tablespoons). Keeping the stove on medium heat, add the jeera/ cumin seeds, let them sizzle for 10 seconds. Add the kala jeera/ black cumin, let them sizzle for 10 seconds. Add the garlic pods that you crushed and kept ready. Sauté till they begin to darken (10-20 seconds) keeping them whole.
- Add the minced onions, sauté for 3-5 minutes till they begin to brown. Add the red chilli and saute, turning it over so that all sides get scalded. You may add the red chilli before the garlic if that is your usual method. Add the asafoetida/hing powder. Add the curry leaves. I always shred them first so that they have a better chance of being consumed rather than be left on the side of the plate. Pour the tadka over the dal.
- Remove the peanuts from the water in which they are soaking, dry them with a clean napkin or tissue and garnish the dal. Add minced coriander leaves. Serve the dal hot, with basmati rice or roti.