A bowl filled with khatti dhal with a spoon on the side

Khatti dhal

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(13 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins Cook: 1 hr, 15 mins - 1 hr, 30 mins plus soaking


Serves 4 - 6

Serve this tasty, healthy dhal as a vegetarian main meal or side dish. Adding tamarind to the lentils delivers fabulous sweet and sour flavour

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Healthy
  • Gluten-free
  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: Per serving

  • kcal457
  • fat9g
  • saturates4g
  • carbs68g
  • sugars6g
  • fibre3g
  • protein25g
  • salt0.3g
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    For the dhal

    • 430g toor dhal or red split lentils
    • ½ tsp turmeric



      Turmeric is a fragrant, bright golden-yellow root that is most commonly seen and used dried and…

    • 2 large tomatoes, chopped (better if you remove the skin but not essential)
    • 5cm piece ginger, peeled and grated



      Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It…

    • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or grated
    • 2 green chillies, chopped (deseeded if you don’t like it very hot)
    • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
    • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
    • 2 tsp ground coriander

    For the tempering

    • 2 tbsp oil or ghee (or a mixture of oil and unsalted butter)



      The Indian version of clarified butter (ie a butter that has had its milk solids removed, making…

    • ½ tsp cumin seeds
    • 8 garlic cloves, sliced
    • 3 dried chillies (I use Kashmiri), roughly broken
    • 12 curry leaves, fresh or frozen (optional)


    1. Soak the toor dhal for about 40 mins, then rinse well. Put it in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with the turmeric, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and chillies. Add 1.7 litres of water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down low and cook until you have a thick purée, adding water if it gets too dry. Dhal can be quite soupy or quite thick, depending on how you like it. Simply reduce it to thicken it, or add water to thin it. Season to taste.

    2. When the dhal is at a thickness you like, add the tamarind, chilli powder (unless it’s already hot enough), and the ground coriander and check the seasoning.

    3. Tempering is the last phase for a dhal. Heat the oil or ghee in a frying pan and add the cumin seeds. Cook over a medium heat for about 30 secs, then add the garlic and cook for about 10 secs (the garlic should eventually become golden but not brown so don’t overdo it at this point), then add the dried chillies and the curry leaves, if using. Fry until the dried chillies have changed colour slightly and the curry leaves are crisp. Pour this over the dhal and stir. Cover and leave to sit for a few mins before serving.

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    Comments, questions and tips

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    31st Oct, 2018
    This goes very well with the Indian spiced salmon. I would use a little less water in future
    15th Oct, 2018
    I made as per recipe. Would use a little less water next time and also use a little more cumin as per previous comment.
    18th Nov, 2017
    IThis recipe is really good. I used a tin of chopped tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes, and didn't have any tamarind. I also tripled the amount of cumin for the tempering. I used red lentils instead of the toor dhal as I decided to cook this spur of the moment and didn't have any in the house. A relatively simple dish to make as long as you taste as you're going along... It was tasty!
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