Some memories of childhood, however insignifcant, stick with us forever due to the exhilarating and fun experiences they are associated with. I remember how my poor old rickshaw walla, Dharmu (God rest his soul in peace!), was so patient with us kids as we would beg him to stop on our way back home from school near some mango trees lining one of the roads we passed through everyday and got down to collect raw mangoes that fell off the trees prematurely. We would scream in glee, collecting raw mangoes of every size and would get terribly disappointed should we find brown rot spots on them. At the end of 10 minutes, Dharmu would honk his horn and we would reluctantly climb back on the rickshaw, comparing our ‘loot’. After returning home, convincing Ma to make chutney with the ‘kachha aam’ would be another Herculian task. Often she would throw away the little tarty mangoes in frustration, but whenever she had a surplus of mint in the garden, she would oblige.
This past summer, I found myself craving for the taste of raw mango with salt and chilli powder, a rather weird snack that I was so fond of munching on while slogging over boring math practice sheets in high school, and my mother would advise me against eating for fear of developing heat rashes on my face. So I took myself to an Indian grocery store to buy one, and met a telugu lady who was buying 10 raw mangoes! Curious, I asked her if she was going to make mango pickle with it. She said, when in season, she peels and cuts them into pieces, and freezes them for up to 7-8 months! Then she uses them in chutneys, vegetables and dal. I asked her how she made dal with it and she gave me a quick recipe using ‘toor’ dal. Intrigued, I brought another raw mango back home to try the dal next day. Much to my dismay, I did not have enough toor dal, so I made it with a combination of toor and masoor dal. By Jove, that evening at dinner I realized I had hit upon a recipe that was a definite keeper! It tasted absolutely delicious with both roti and rice. From then on, I have started buying more mangoes than I really need, and cut and freeze in advance. Needless to say, mango dal is a fortnightly staple at the dining table now.
This can be made with just toor dal as it is traditionally made, but after making it with a little masoor dal, I found that the combination tasted much better. Enjoy!
- 1 raw mango (peeled and cubed into 1/2″ squares)
- 3/4 cup toor dal
- 1/2 cup dhuli masoor dal (without skin)
- 2 slit green chillies
- 1 spring curry leaves
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 dry red chillies
- 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1/8 tsp asafoetida
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp oil or ghee
- salt (to taste)
Wash and soak both the dals for about 2-3 hours. Add a little salt and pressure cook for about 5 whistles. The dal should not be too runny. If there is too much liquid after cooking, do not drain the water. You can always dry it some after the tarhka.
Boil the mango pieces in a little water with a little salt separately. Neither should the mango be overcooked to a mushy soft consistency, nor should the pieces have a bite to them. There should be some water left after boiling.
Heat oil in a karahi. Add methi seeds. When they turn a little brown, add mustard seeds. When the seeds have spattered, add the dry red chillies. Add curry leaves and green chillies and fry, then add asafoetida. Now add turmeric and stir, followed by adding the boiled mango along with the water it was cooked in. Add a pinch of sugar to cut the tartness. Stir well and add the dal and red chilli powder. Now bring to a boil. If there is excess water, let the dal boil to get it to a thicker consistency. Adjust sugar and chilli power to taste. The dal should taste a little sour with no tartness. The final consistency should be a little thick, like khichrhi. Serve hot with rice or roti, and a dry vegetable dish.