Aamba Daal

Aamba daal is one of those quick-n-simple recipes that make you wonder how such a simple recipe can taste so heavenly. Raw mango being an essential element of Aamba Daal (sometimes also referred to as ‘Vatli Daal or ‘Kairichi Dal’), it is a dish associated with summer.

In fact, during haldi-kunku gatherings – a popular social tradition in Maharashtra – in the month of Chaitra as per the Hindu Calendar, Aamba Daal & Kairi Panha is the standard menu. For me personally, Aamba Daal is very strongly associated with childhood memories of the 11-day Ganpati festival that used to be celebrated with great gusto at the Maharashtra Mandal in Chennai. For reasons I have never questioned, Aamba Daal used to be the standard menu on the last day of Ganpati – post visarjan – when we would trudge back after bidding adieu to Ganpati & eleven eventful evenings and be fed Aamba Daal to get our spirits up.

Ingredients:

  • Chana Daal – 1 cup
  • Green Chillies – 1 or 2
  • Fresh, grated coconut – 1 tablespoon
  • Raw Mango (grated) – 1 to 1.5 tablespoons (This depends on how sour the raw mango is – the more sour it is, the less you need)
  • Sugar – a pinch
  • Oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Mustard seeds (Rai) – 1/2 a tspn
  • Asafoetida (hing) – 1/4th tspn
  • Turmeric (Haldi) – 1/4th tspn
  • Dry red chilly – 1 (optional)
  • Coriander (chopped) – 1 tablespoon

Preparation:

Soak the Chana Daal for 2-3 hours at the minimum. Transfer it to a strainer and leave it for 10-15 minutes so that all the water is completely drained.

Then add salt & green chillies and grind it to a very coarse consistency. When using a mixie, this gets done in a jiffy so watch out as you don’t want a paste. Transfer to a bowl and add the coconut, raw mango and pinch of sugar to this, mixing well.

Make the tadka (or Phodni – as it is called in Marathi) in a tadka laddle or small pan. Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When they pop, turn off the gas. Then add the Hing, Haldi and red chilly (cut into 2 pieces). The red chilly is optional – it adds a certain flavour to the dish but also ups the spice levels.

Cool the phodni to room temperature. Then pour it over the Chana Daal mix & blend. Top it off with chopped coriander and get ready to dig into this yummy summer treat.

Aamba Daal can be eaten as is – as a snack or in lieu of a salad.

 

Panha

As summer manifests itself in all its glory in India and all of us look for avenues to beat the heat, a ‘must- have’ drink in this part of the world is ‘Panha’. Known by various names – Kairee Panha or Panhe, Aam-Panna, etc – this drink is also made with subtle variations across regions and households. The recipe below is my mom’s and is something you absolutely CANNOT afford to miss making during these hot summer months.

Combined with Aamba Daal, this makes a great summer evening high tea menu or even a light meal.

Ingredients:

  • Raw Mango or Kairee (Big) – 1
  • Jaggery – same volume as the Raw Mango (see recipe below)
  • Salt – to taste
  • Cardamom (Elaichi or velchi) powder – a pinch
  • Nutmeg (Jaiphal) powder – a pinch

Preparation:

Wash the raw mango and pressure cook it (without adding any water). After it cools down, break it open and take out all the raw mango pulp. Measure the volume of pulp and add the same volume of jaggery to it. Blend well and set this mix aside for an hour or so. This lets the jaggery soak properly in the pulp and melt a bit.

Then add salt to taste, and the cardamon & nutmeg powder and mix well – and the base Panha is ready! When you want to make the actual drink, add plain water (just like you would add water to a juice concentrate), top it with ice and serve.

Note:

  • The panha made as above is very thick and lumpy – and needs to be stirred quite a bit when making it into a drink. So some folks run the mix in a mixie with half a cup of water so it blends well and is smooth. You can try doing that.
  • The panha as above does not ‘stay’ for more than a day or so, even in a refrigerator. To ensure it lasts for a week or so, boil the mix slightly – that is, just till the first set of bubbles start. Do NOT do a full-fledged boil. And remember to keep stirring the mix as you bring it to a boil.

So go on..take on the summer with Panha!