Keeping things interesting on weekdays with Hyderabadi Khatti Daal: 
I feel cooking for weekends is much easier than cooking for weekdays. Do you feel the same? Weekend food is always something fun and indulgent as we relax our strictly healthy diet rules somewhat. The food slides from nice to naughty easily and who doesn’t enjoy eating the biryanis, kormas, pizzas and parathas! The weekday food struggles to compete with such indulgence giants.

 

Creating variety is the solution:

For weekdays, when I already have guilt from weekend and stacks of chores to finish, I try to keep the choices simple and healthy. But it still has to be interesting because when kids come back home from school, something ‘same old’ instantly kills their appetite for lunch. To keep creating variety in good old vegetable curries and daal chaawal (lentils and rice) is the only way to keep things glammed up.

Hyderabadi Khatti Daal to the rescue! 

For such days, recipes like Hyderabadi Khatti Daal come in so handy. A couple of ingredients added and the “same old” becomes something lip smacking good! In this case tomatoes and tamarind work like magic to transform simple daal into a salty, spicy and tangy yumminess. The spices simmered in oil/baghar finishes the dish with a panache. The final dish is as princely to smell and taste as is all of Hyderabadi cuisine.

And guess what? It’s healthy too! 

The healthy factor stays intact too. Lentils are choke full of iron and vitamin B, some varieties are equal to meat or even richer in protein. Cooked daal can be very healthy if we go frugal on tarka/oil and control the portion siz. Also tamarind, which is an essential ingredient of many Hyderabadi dishes, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also appetising and good for stomach.

Ingredients:

1 cup red or yellow lentils (masoor, mung or toor daal)
2 tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 cup tamarind paste or 1 inch block of tamarind soaked in 1/2 cup hot water
2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee(clarified butter)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes or 2 dry red chilli peppers
1 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (optional)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 curry leaf (optional)

This Is What You Do:

Peel tomatoes and garlic cloves. Add to a blender and make smooth purée.Add lentils, tomato-garlic purée, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and 2 cups or enough water to cover the lentils.

Cover and cook on medium low heat till the lentils are very tender. Mash them up and blend completely with the water in the pan with your stirring spoon. The consistency of lentils should be creamy and that of pancake batter.

Dilute tamarind paste in a little water. If using soaked tamarind block, rub with hands to mix with water and remove fibre and seeds. Strain pulpy water. Add to the lentils. Stir to mix. Check at this stage for the balance of salty and sour. Add more tamarind or salt if required.

Add a little more water if the daal is too thick. Well cooked daal should neither be to thin and separate from water nor too thick and gluggy.

In a small frying pan, heat up oil. Add crushed garlic, red chilli flakes/whole dry red chillies, cumin seed, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaf. Remove from heat when the garlic turns golden and the seeds begin to splutter.

Pour this tempered oil over daal. Serve hot, garnished with your favourite herbs (coriander, mint, spring onions).

Serve with roti or steamed rice.

Serves 4

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