KHATTI MEETHI DAL / खट्टी-मीठी दाल (Sweet & Sour Lentil Soup)


The most wonderful feeling after a holiday, for me, is the feeling of being back home. The comfort of one’s own house and one’s routine, even though mundane, is unsurpassable. This year I didn’t take a break from the blog which I usually do around Diwali. Instead, this year, I prepared the posts in advance and kept uploading them from where ever I travelled while meeting friends and family. It so happened that a few weeks before Diwali a friend casually remarked that I take too many breaks from blogging and sometimes I simply disappear from my blog for weeks. I mulled over his words and realised that he was quite right. I have been doing the disappearing act quite often and although most of the times, the ‘breaks’ have been unplanned and unintentional but they do affect my blog and me in the process. The circumstances force me into phases of inaction and then it takes me a few more days to switch on my ‘get into action mode’ button. My target is always to upload five recipes a month and an extra one is a huge bonus; although that rarely happens. And talking about five posts a month, I yet again managed to skip a post scheduled for the 3rd of this month. Some things never changedo they!?

While the weather in north had begun to change with a nip in the air in mornings, here the weather doesn’t go through much change. Nonetheless a bowl of this dal or lentil soup is something that I can have irrespective of the weather being hot, warm or cold. Lentil soups are easy, wholesome, and fast to make; even more so if you pressure cook the lentils. There is something about the sweet and sour flavours of this particular soup which is so compelling that the palate never seems to get gratified. You keep on spooning more and more mouthfuls of it, hoping that this soupy bliss never ends. Perhaps it has got something to do with the pungent earthy flavors of its tempering. Why not try it for yourself and figure it out! You can enjoy it as a soup or the typical Indian way, which is, with a bowl of rice and a side dish. For a change, try pairing it with Papad instead of a loaf of good ol’ rustic bread. You can use what ever tempering you wish to add to this soup. For those who do not like the pungent flavors of garlic can opt for finely chopped shallots and minced ginger.


½ C Toor Dal/ Arhar Dal (Split Pigeon Peas)

2C Water

¼ tsp Turmeric powder

½ tsp Red Chili powder (adjust heat +/-)

Salt to taste (I used ½ tsp)

1st Tempering:

2 tsp Oil

½ tsp Mustard Seeds

½ tsp Cumin Seeds

¼ tsp Asafoetida Powder (mine isn’t too strong)

7-8 Curry Leaves

½ tsp Coriander Powder

1 tsp, levelled, Tamarind Paste (adjust to taste +/-) 1 tbsp Palm Sugar (Gur Shakkar) or Jaggery (adjust to taste +/-) rcZBlv1415527191

2nd Tempering:

1½ tsp Ghee

1 tsp chopped Garlic

¼ tsp Degi Mirch, optional (to add color to the tempering)

Pick & wash the dal and transfer to a pressure cooker. Put the pressure cooker on stove top, switch on the heat and add water to the dal along with salt, turmeric powder and red chili powder. Allow the dal to come to a boil. Reduce the heat to minimum and fit the lid over the pressure cooker. Cook on low flame for 5 – 7 minutes. Switch off the heat and let the dal sit in the cooker (do not try open the lid) till the pressure has worn off. Open the pressure cooker and mash the dal with the potato masher or back of a big spoon. Keep aside.

For the first tempering: The whole process of tempering will take just a few seconds so keep all the measured ingredients ready with you. Heat oil a small pan and once it begins to get hot, reduce the heat and add asafoetida powder. Bring the heat to medium and add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once they crackle, add the curry leaves (be careful when you add curry leaves as they will splutter oil). Add the coriander powder and cook it only for a second or two since the oil is hot and can burn the coriander powder. Add this to the lentils and stir well.

Add the tamarind (I dilute it with water) and the palm sugar. I strongly advise you add the palm sugar and tamarind little by little so as to adjust the sweetness and sourness according to your taste. The quantity mentioned here is how we like it.

For second tempering: Take ghee in a small pan and heat it. Add the chopped garlic and fry on a low heat till it becomes aromatic. I prefer to turn the garlic golden brown. Switch off the heat and add the degi mirch. Add this to the dal and stir again. (this tempering is visible in the pics) I usually add half of it to the dal and the rest I divide equally to garnish the dal before serving.

Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve hot.

Yield: serves 3


You may also like to check out these recipes:

 Lauki wali Chana Dal (Split Bengal Gram w/ Bottle Gourd)

Fox Nut Seeds Soup w/ Brown Butter Lentil Tempering

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Thanks for visiting and see you soon again

Yours truly got lucky and won the OCTOBER’S YBR at Nancy’s blog.

39 thoughts on “KHATTI MEETHI DAL / खट्टी-मीठी दाल (Sweet & Sour Lentil Soup)

    1. Thanks Maureen.
      Don’t worry about the degi mirch in the tempering…it is just for the purpose of giving a nice reddish hue to the tempering.

  1. Lentils are one of my favorite foods, I’m just learning to cook with tamarind, love how it enhances the flavor. How much do you recommend to use here? Thanks!

    1. I am sure you will love the tangy hit that tamarind brings to this soup which is subtly balanced by the palm sugar. And thanks for bringing it to my notice…I had missed mentioning the amount of the sweet and sour agents.

    1. You are right Chris. This soup is loaded with flavors and beautiful mellow sweet and sour notes.

  2. So agree with you, it is very difficult to get into the flow after a blogging break 🙂

    The soup does look so warming. Perfect for the chill that has settled in my place.

  3. Ooh, I absolutely love soup, especially this time of the year, and this looks WONDERFUL. I’m actually a little chilly right now, so I would love a warming bowl right now. =)

  4. Some days I just don’t feel like sitting in front of my laptop and blogging. I have thousands of articles to write but it can be really tiring. So I take a break a day or two and come back with action.

    This is a lovely soup and dhal – a number fav for my cooking. Made my version of soup with it before but now I have another lovely one to replicate soon.

  5. Ah ya, your blog publishing story sounds very very familiar! I always swear, even shamelessly to my readers, that I will post more. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten to that yet… Somehow the hours pass too fast.

    I agree daal is always a food that works well too when it’s hot. It’s my go to ingredient when I don’t know what to cook due to heavy weather changes in goa.
    I am looking forward to try your recipe but I will do that when my husband is not around because he is always suspicious about other daal recipes, he is a true goan who loves his goan daal. 😉

    1. My husband does not like the sweet touch in his savory so I happen to make this dal only when he is travelling 😛

  6. lovely pictures yaar, but too many curry leaves, dont mind but u can do sooooo much better. Knowing your creative skills and photos, this is like ok:)
    i love this any day:) great recipe:)

  7. Lentil soup is one of my favorites.
    I remember the one I learned o prepare when we lived in India and it was delicious.
    Now I will try your version, it looks and sounds fantastic .
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. i find that one of the trickiest things about blogging is trying to keep up with it. this looks so yummy and perfect for fall!

  9. I totally just put my best indian accent on for the dal, it looks absolutely awesome 😀
    I haven’t tried lentils this way but intend to now!

    Choc Chip Uru

  10. I agree with you 100%. Its hard to get back to the mood of blogging a break happens in between. I loved the fresh sprig of curry leaves the most in that picture. Seems like you have a big bush/tree of curry leaves. Never tried the sweet version of dal. Sounds comforting for this cold weather!!

    1. Thanks Shibi. I too thought that the curry leaves brought out a lot of color and brightness to the pictures. I had a nice healthy curry leave bush but it died in the intense summer heat despite care. And those curry leaves are courtesy the generosity of my green grocer 😉

  11. What an unusual lentil soup! So unlike my mother’s old recipe. I never would have thought to add sweet to it. Looks delicious and love your toast points. Such a lovely presentation!

    1. Thanks Barbara and I hope you try this version of lentil soup and enjoy it as much as we did 🙂

  12. It is a nice feeling to be back home from where ever you are. And, daal is the comfort food for us Indians in every season. I was actually thinking of making something light for dinner. Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. I love lentils – and your version sounds so delicious – I would have a hard time stopping myself from indulging in spoon after spoon too!
    I haven’t use tamarind and brown sugar/jaggery before but deinitely will next time! Thanks so much for this recipe!

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