Sour dhal


I grew up in a house hold, where there was always dhal, either on the stove being boiled, braised or on the table or even tucked away in the fridge. Dhal was always on the menu.

From oil dhal, to pea dhal, to chana dhal and don’t even get me started on the moong dhal selection… that confuses me, I tend to bypass that section of the spice shop.

I was reading Madhur’s cook book and she had a recipe for sour dhal. I have never heard or tasted sour dhal before, so I was very curious as to what this dhal is. I was really under the impression that it was some fancy dhal with a whole lot of complicated ingredients and that also making it would be a night mare all on its own.

But I was mistaken, it was just normal chana dhal, cooked like I always cook it and the sourness came from the tamarind paste.

One bite and I was in love, my mother had the flu so her taste buds tasted nothing, but she said it looked delicious, my dad well he wasn’t too keen on the whole new dish that he now needs to get used to you.

When people ask what did he eat or what did he bring for lunch, he simply replies, he gave up asking a long time ago, his stomach has become my new testing lab…so dramatic I tell you.


  • 2 x cups chana dhal.
  • ¼ x tsp turmeric powder.
  • 1 x tsp salt.
  • 2 x green chillies, split lengthwise down the middle.
  • 10 x curry leaves.
  • 2 x Tbsp chopped coriander.
  • ¼ x tsp masala.
  • 1 x tsp ginger and garlic paste.
  • 2 x tomatoes, grated.
  • 3 x tsp tamarind paste.
  • 2 x Tbsp olive oil.
  • ¼ x tsp mustard seeds.
  • ½ x tsp cumin seeds.
  • 3 x dried chillies.


  • Boil the dhal with the turmeric powder, till soft, drain and using a potatoe masher, gently mash quickly and set aside.
  • In a pot, bring the oil to the heat.
  • Add in the mustard and cumin seeds and allow the mustard seeds to start popping.
  • Add in the salt, green chillies, dry chillies, curry leaves, coriander, masala, ginger and garlic paste, tomatoes and tamarind paste.
  • Give it a good stir, cover and allow to cook till the tomatoes are cooked through and mushy.
  • Add in about a cup of water, stir and allow the mixture to come to the boil.
  • Add in the dhal and cook till gravy has reduced.

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