Mother’s Day par Mango Dal

Yes, yes. The Met department has apparently predicted that it, again apparently, will be a cooler summer this year. In Delhi? In India? I’m not sure. Yes, it’s rained a bit through April and May. But all the many non-rainy days have been super-hot. So it is still summer only.

And I have taken up seasonal cooking big time since November 2010. So we will be all summery and use green mangoes to make dal. The Bengali Tok-er Dal.

To be honest, I’ve made this only once so far this year, because in my book it really isn’t really really hot yet. But my newlywed sister has been cooking ‘mango dal’ (as she says) quite often, for her hubby. (Who is a sweet man, btw. Hello, jamaai-ji!)

And I noticed recently that people have been asking her for the recipe on fb. And I found myself wondering what recipe she’s using, too. Is she using the one our mother cooks by? Or is hers not a Bengali dal at all?

Every summer I call our Amma once at the beginning of the season and ask her how she does it. Then I change it and make it my way anyway. (Sorry, Amma!)

I’m sure hers tastes better than mine. Yet I do this. And will probably continue to do so. And my daughter will probably do the same with respect(?!) to my recipes. So I’ll share our Amma’s recipe here. As also mine. Maybe my sister will be kind enough to share hers with us as well. Then we can have a great big Mother’s Day cook-off.  Haha. (As if.)

Ready, steady, go!

Amma’s method:

I. Cook arhar/toor dal in pressure cooker with water (just enough to cover the dal). Mash well.

II. In the cooking vessel/kadhai, heat a little bit of oil (not mustard oil). Then sputter some mustard and/or jeera seeds in it.

III. Add the raw/green mango, sliced off the kernel into thick pieces, and cook for a minute. Add some water and salt. Mix well and cook covered for 2-3 minutes. (You can include the whole kernel in the dal as well.)

IV. Then add about 1/2 tsp of sugar (or a very very tiny bit of gur/jaggery), some turmeric powder, the mashed dal (so as to make the dal not too thick), and bring to boil on low heat. 

Turn off the heat and the dal is ready to be served/eaten.

My way:

I. Cook masoor dal in pressure cooker with little salt and a pinch of turmeric. Mash well.

II. In kadhai/cooking vessel, heat a spoon of ghee. Sputter some mustard seeds and kalonji (kalo jeere/nigella seeds), and some jeera if you like/feel you must. And a slit green chilli or two.

I don’t add the jeera usually, sometimes not even the mustard seeds, but that’s just me. You could also sputter some panchphoron instead (a mix of mustard or radhuni, fennel/saunf, methi/fenugreek, jeera/cumin & kalonji), I think, just for a change, you know – but our mother disagrees with me rather vehemently on this. I haven’t tried it myself. Maybe I will next time, and let you know.

III. Then add a raw-hence-green mango or two (depending on the quantity of dal you intend to make), sliced off the kernel such that you get large but fleshy enough pieces. Add some  salt (as required), plus another pinch of turmeric and mix. Cover and cook on low heat for about 2-4 minutes depending on the tenderness of the mango itself.

I leave the peel on the mango but many people don’t. I also throw the kernel into the vessel, but I’ve been told everyone doesn’t do that. Please do as you please. I just enjoy the experience of sucking on the kernel and the bits of skin one doesn’t actually eat. Also I think it prevents the mango flesh from getting too soft and mixing completely into the dal, thereby preserving some interesting texture as deserved by such an exotic, limited-season dal. So sue me.

IV. Add the mashed dal,  some sugar(to taste, usually <1 tsp), and water (quantity dependent on the consistency you prefer, I’d recommend medium thickness, not too much like dal makhni), mix well, and cook covered till it begins to steam from under the lid. Uncover and stir to avoid anything sticking to bottom of the vessel. Turn off the heat when it starts boiling, and again add a few (not many) dhaniya leaves if you find any non-dead bunch in this blazing heat. I’m not sure Amma or anyone else at all would agree with the dhaniya leaves thing, but I already shared how compulsive a dhaniya-leaf-scatterer I am.

Thank you, Amma. I love being your daughter, I love Bengali food, and cooking it, and I love you. Mutthams. Happy Mother’s Day. Please be happy all other days also.

P.S. Our Amma is not just our Amma. Her name is Papri, she’s an artist, a writer, and a very very hardworking, kind & beautiful person. Check out her blog ‘Vaanavil’, listed on my blogroll.

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