A news alert two days ago declared that the western part of India will experience monsoon “in 2-3 days”. Which means me, along with scores of others, have joined the thousand others sending prayers to the rain gods! But until the rains arrive, I am busy enjoying the last of the mango rush.
Like almost every Gujarati household – we are part Gujarati by virtue of the years we’ve lived here – we love mangoes. Green raw and tangy or orange fleshy juicy… we like it all. Maa does her bit to keep up with the aam (mango) demand with aam ras (mango puree), aam papdi (mango leather), aam achaar (mango pickle), aam chutney (mango chutney), aam panna (mango concentrate juice).
The favourite of them all is the aam dal (mango dal) or tok dal (sour dal).
A simple and delicious masoor dal cooked with raw mangoes, this is a Bengali staple. The masoor dal (red lentil) is light on the stomach – perfect for summer – while the raw mango adds freshness to the mundane. The two main ingredients make the aam dal a very healthy dish. While the benefits of red lentils are well known, raw mangoes helps prevents dehydration, acts against tummy troubles and is good for the heart-liver-intestine.
I don’t remember the first time I had this dal – it’s been around forever. But I do remember hanging around with Raka and another cousin sister in the little garden behind my maternal grandparents’ home, attempting to clamber up trees to grab raw mangoes. I never did master the art of climbing trees. But I did master the art of eating mangoes and am I proud of it!
A perfect recipe for a kitchen fresher like me, this dal is super easy to make! No sweat recipe, thy name is aam dal. The method and seasonings differ in each household. The tanginess increased or decreased to suit the discerning Bengali palate. My way of making the aam dal is the way Maa makes it; it’s what I love and learned.
Psst… I’ve tried my hand at making videos of the process and they’ve been put up on From The Corner Table’s Instagram stories. So do check them out.
Aam dal/Tok dal (Red lentils & raw mango soup)
A simple and delicious dal (soup) made with masoor (red lentil) and raw aam (mangoes), this is a Bengali staple to beat the scorching heat.
- 1 cup Masoor dal/Red lentil (washed)
- 1 cup Raw green mango (deskinned, cubed)
- 1/2 tablespoon Mustard oil
- 1 Green chilli
- 2 Dry red chillies
- 1/4 teaspoon Mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon Ginger (grated/crushed)
- 1/2 tablespoon Jaggery
- 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
- Salt (to taste)
In a big pan, bring four cups of water to a boil. Add the washed lentils, a pinch of salt, green chilli and cook.
Keep a close eye on the boiling lentil. You need to remove the froth that forms on the surface of the water. Just scoop out the froth and throw it away.
Boil until the lentils are properly cooked.
Place a second pan on low flame and heat mustard oil. When your nostrils begin to tingle with the smell of hot mustard oil, add the red chillies, mustard seeds and let them splutter.
Add ginger and give the spices a quick stir before adding the mangoes. Mix well.
Add a pinch of salt, some turmeric powder and cook till the mangoes are partially soft.
Now get ready for some super quick action! For this, you need to keep a pan cover handy.
Once the mangoes are cooked adequately, pour in the cooked lentil (along with water) and quickly cover the pan. This is done to stop the aroma of the spices from escaping.
A minute later, remove the lid, add the jaggery and mix well.
Check the seasoning. This is when you adjust the salt, the sweet and consistency of the dal. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.
Serve hot or at room temperature with rice or as soup.
- Mustard oil can be replaced with a vegetable oil of your choice. I prefer to use mustard oil when making traditional Bengali dishes.
- Jaggery is a healthier way of adding that hint of sweet to the dal. If you wish to, use sugar.
- To cut down on cooking time, boil the lentils and mango together before cooking them in the spices.
Photos: Rapti Bhaumick