Dal Chawal Kath Recipe | Rajasthani Cuisine | Marwari Food

Kath, also known as khat or khatta, is a popular Rajasthani/Marwadi dish, but surprisingly I have not come across any information about it on the internet.  Dal Baati Choorma, and gatte ki sabji are some of the famous Rajasthani dishes that will probably come to your mind first.  While Dal-Baati-Choorma is meant more as a special meal, the lesser known Dal-Chawal-Kath combination from Rajasthani cuisine is more of an everyday meal, simple food.

Each family has their own style of making kath, and in this post I will show you different ways of making kath that I learned from my father, granny, and mother-in-law.

The Dal eaten with Kath is called 'Kaathi Dal', which is basically Toor Dal pressure cooked with only turmeric powder, salt, and water and has medium-thick consistency.  The Chawal is regular rice boiled in water, and the water is strained and reserved. Kath is made from the starchy water left after boiling rice, adding some of the Kaathi Dal, one sour agent (either tamarind, kokum, or amchoor), spices, and tempering.  So basically, by cooking the Dal and Rice, you combine the both to make a watery thin, soup-like dish called Kath.  And since Kath is so liquidy, it makes sense to have a thicker dal instead of a thin, runny dal.

My granny (mom's mom) uses kokum + amchoor as the sour agent and pounds cilantro + green chili + ginger in a mortar and pestle. The pounding of fresh ingredients adds a different touch to a dish.  My mother-in-law uses tamarind for the sourness and adds freshly pounded mint leaves to her kath, which adds a unique aroma and flavor.  My father uses a combination of ingredients and methods.  The recipe I share here is based on how all of them taught me.

Dal Chawal Khatta Recipe
Serves 4

Step 1: Imli ka Paani
Soak 20 gm tamarind in ½ cup water for 30 mins. While the tamarind is soaking you can start the next steps.  After 30 mins, rub tamarind well to squeeze and strain pulp. Mix another ½ cup water to help extract more tamarind juice out of the pulp. Strain to discard any seeds and threads.  Keep aside, you will need 1 cup of this tamarind water to make kath..  If you have store-bought tamarind pulp or concentrate, start with 1 Tbsp concentrate mixed in 1 cup water and add more water or pulp as required to get the sour taste. 

Step 2: Kaathi Dal
1 cup toor dal (aka arhar dal or split pigeon peas)

Rinse dal a few times, pressure cook with 2 cups of water + ¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi) + ½ tsp salt for 3-4 whistles on medium heat.  Let the pressure cool down completely before opening pressure cooker. [here's a post on how to cook lentils in pressure cooker]  You are looking for a completely mashed and medium-thick dropping consistency dal.  Mash with a ghotni (muddler).  If dal is too thick, add a little water and give it a boil.  Keep aside, covered to keep warm.  You will be using 3 Tbsp of this kaathi dal to make kath.

Step 3: Chawal
1 cup rice (regular or basmati, anything is fine)

Rinse rice a few times. Boil in a pan with about 4 cups of water.  Once the rice is cooked (mash a few rice grains in your hand to check), strain and reserve water. You will need 1 cup of this starch water to make kath.  Keep rice aside, covered to keep warm.

Step 4: Kath/Khat/Khatta
1 tsp oil
¼ tsp mustard seeds (rai)
¼ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
6-7 curry leaves (karipatta)
1 tsp finely chopped green chilies or green chili paste
2 tsp grated ginger
¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
¼ tsp red chili powder
½ tsp coriander seed (dhaniya) powder
3 Tbsp kaathi dal [as prepared in Step 2]
1 cup tamarind water [as prepared in Step 1]
1 cup starch water [as prepared in Step 3]
1 cup plain water
1 tsp salt
½ tsp sugar or gud (jaggery)
2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro

Final tempering:
1 tsp ghee or oil
¼ tsp mustard seeds (rai)
¼ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
Pinch asafetida (heeng)

Heat oil in a medium deep pan or saucepan on medium heat.  When hot, add mustard seeds, let pop. Add cumin seeds, let sizzle. Add curry leaves + green chilies + ginger + turmeric powder + red chili powder + coriander seed powder + kaathi dal, mixing after each addition.  When you start adding the liquids in next step make sure you start adding a little first to dissolve the dal completely then continue.  Add tamarind water + starch water + plain water + salt + sugar or jiggery + cilantro and let the kath boil for 15 minutes. Cover to let the flavors infuse.  Taste to adjust salt, sweetness, spiciness, and sourness of kath as you desire.  Final tempering: in a small pan heat ghee or oil on high flame, add mustard seeds, let pop, add cumin seeds, let sizzle, add asafetida, and put the small pan inside the pan with kath. If you needed to add more spice with red chili powder, you can add the powder in hot oil in this final tempering. Alternatively you can add this final tempering on the kath in its serving bowl, acts like a garnish on top and gives a fantastic flavor too.

If you think about it, many dishes from Rajasthan are made in a way that can either be stored for longer (mangodi), or can be made with fewest of vegetables (papad ki sabji), and eaten with just roti or rice to make it a complete meal.  Looking at the environment, vast desert, and living conditions in Rajasthan in the olden days, they made great use of minimally available resources to feed themselves.  Dal Chawal Kath is one such example.  To some, dal chawal kath with papad and achaar is comfort food.

My mom and I like our khat a little sweeter so we mix a little sugar in our bowls of hot khat.  A spicy, tangy khat that's sweet at the same time - can you imagine how your tastebuds would be dancing?

This is how you serve and eat dal chawal kath: put rice on your plate, add some kaathi dal in the center, drizzle a little ghee, serve hot kath in a bowl, roast a papad, and take some mango pickle.  Mix and relish a simple Marwadi/Rajasthani meal.

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  1. This would be such a comfort food even if I have never had it before. Looks really yum. Making it soon.

  2. This is one of my favourite Rajasthani food. I'm natively from Rajasthan, it's well known there as Kaathi dal chawal :-) I'm glad that you are sharing this recipe with all.

  3. The "tamarind transition" photo is a great example of a picture being worth a thousand words.

    Kath - never came across it before. The recipe sounds like something I'll love.

  4. yummy :) I love traditional dish of Rajasthan,i will try soon.

  5. I love it...and specially my moms daal chaawal kath..i thot its a marathi dish but atlast..thanks to google..i searched it today and came to know its rajasthani dish..yayyy :-)

  6. I love it...and specially my moms daal chaawal kath..i thot its a marathi dish but atlast..thanks to google..i searched it today and came to know its rajasthani dish..yayyy :-)

  7. I love this made by mil..actually I had it only after marriage! I too searched for it over the net but never found anything substantial. . This id very similar to how mil makes it. .thanks for sharing dear :)

  8. Can you share the dal recipe that is made everyday in marwari maheshwari homes ? Basically it is everyday dal of Marwari Maheshwari homes. It is completely different from the ones that are made at Agarwal homes or any other homes for that matter. It is way too delicious

  9. Its one of my favourite dish..n too in the winter season..

  10. nice blog thanks for sharing.i love daal chawal.


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