Arhar Ki Khatti Dal - Lucknowi Khatti Dal - Sour Lentil Stew
Arhar ki Khatti Dal (a sour lentil stew) made in the traditional Lucknowi style from Toor dal (Pigeon pea lentils) cooked in tamarind extract and garnished with raw peanuts soaked in water, tempered in ghee with onion, garlic, and chilli
Author: Sujata Shukla
For Cooking Arhar Dal - Slit pigeon pea Lentils
1 cupArhar dal /split pigeon pea lentils/ Tuvar Dal
¼ teaspoon Haldi/ Turmeric Powder
2 cupswaterFor Pressure cooking.
1teaspoondhania/ coriander powder
½ teaspooonred chilli powder
½ teaspoon saltor to taste
1tablespoonginger and garlic pounded together/coarse paste
½ cup lukewarm waterto add to the dal if it becomes dry
For Tamarind extract
1 ½ tablespoonstamarind/ a Lemon sized ball of Tamarind
½ cupwaterfor soaking the tamarind
For Tempering/ Tadka
1tablespoonghee / clarified butter
¼ teaspoonkala 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)
1-2dry red chilli
⅛ teaspoonasafoetida hing powderabout a pinch
1 tablespooncurry leavesshredded
½ cupwaterto 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.