Julie Sahni’s Khatti Dal with Fresh Pear Chutney

Julie Sahni’s Khatti Dal

with Fresh Pear Chutney


Indian Dinner Grain Bowl Fruit Beans/Legumes Nuts High-Protein Soy-Free Gluten-Free
2 2
45 min


  1. 3/4 cup brown basmati rice
  2. Salt*
  3. 1 cup yellow lentils
  4. Fresh chile
  5. 1 clove garlic
  6. 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  7. Pepper*
  8. 1 lemon
  9. 1 scallion
  10. 8 ounces pears
  11. 2 tablespoons pistachios
  12. Fresh cilantro
  13. 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
  14. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil*
  15. 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
  16. 6 fresh curry leaves
  17. *not included



Put the rice in a small saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so it bubbles gently but steadily; cover and cook, undisturbed, until the rice is tender and the water is absorbed, 20 to 30 minutes; when it’s ready, remove the pot from the heat and leave it covered. Rinse and pick over the lentils, removing anything that doesn’t look like it belongs there.


Rinse and chop the chile; chop the garlic. Combine the lentils, turmeric, some or all of the chile (depending on your affinity for heat), and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles aggressively and steadily, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, uncovered, until the lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.


Rinse the lemon and scallion. Rinse and dry the pears. Slice the pears downward from the top, working around the core to remove the seeds; chop the flesh and put it in a medium bowl. Halve the lemon and squeeze the juice from one half (save the rest for another use) into the bowl. Trim and chop the scallion and add it to the bowl along with the pistachios. Toss the chutney well to combine and let it sit. Rinse, trim, and chop the cilantro; reserve for garnish.


Add the tamarind concentrate and 1/4 cup water to the lentils and let the mixture bubble for another minute; remove the pan from the heat. Use a whisk to mash and stir the lentils for about 1 minute; the dal should be saucy but not soupy. Keep it warm over low heat while you make the tadka.


Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the mustard seeds and cover the pan (to prevent spattering); let the seeds pop and sizzle. When the popping begins to subside, add the garlic and cook until lightly browned, about 15 seconds. Add the curry leaves, re-cover the pan, and cook for about 10 seconds, allowing flavors to meld; remove the pan from from the heat.


Fluff the rice with a fork. Pour the tadka into the dal and stir gently to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the dal, adding more chile if you’d like. Serve the dal over the rice, garnished with the cilantro, and pass the pear chutney at the table.