Toovar Dal with Green Mango
This is a close approximation of a toovar dal dish I first tasted in a small village restaurant in mountainous Orissa, in the eastern part of India. The restaurant had two or three wooden tables and a thatched roof, and there was no choice about what to eat for lunch, only lunch itself. All I had to do was to sit down and lunch arrived, served on a beautiful “plate” made of round sal leaves knitted together with tiny slivers of wood. My meal was rice, a green mango dal, a mutton curry, and a lime pickle. Everything was full of flavor, but not fussy. It was no surprise to see mangoes in the dal, because in the lush subtropical mountains of Orissa in late February, giant mango trees are everywhere, and green mangoes are beyond abundant.
The first time we made this dal at home, we used mangoes that were half ripe, and they were perfect. The mangoes’ tart taste complements the dal beautifully.
Serves - 4
- ¾ cup toovar dal, washed and picked over
- 6 to 7 cups water
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 large green mango (¾ to 1 pound), peeled, pitted, and cut into ½-inch dice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons raw sesame oil or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic or garlic mashed to a paste
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger or ginger mashed to a paste
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 to 3 green cayenne chiles, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- Put the dal in a heavy pot with 6 cups water and the turmeric, and bring to a strong boil.
- Reduce the heat to maintain a strong simmer, partially cover, and continue to cook the dal for 50 minutes to an hour, looking in on it occasionally while it cooks to make sure there’s enough water and adding water if necessary, until the dal is well cooked, almost mushy.
- Add the mango and salt, and stir. Raise the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the mango is tender.
- Reduce the heat to a low simmer. (The dal can be made ahead to this point and set aside, covered, until you are ready to proceed. If the wait will be more than 2 hours, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. Place over low heat when you are ready to proceed and bring to a simmer; the dal will have thickened, so you may want to stir in another cup or so of water.)
- Heat the oil in a medium heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
- When it is hot, add the garlic, ginger, onion, chiles, and cumin seeds.
- Stir-fry for about 7 minutes, until the onions are soft and a little brown, then turn out into the dal.
- Stir well, then heat the dal for 2 to 3 minutes to blend the flavors. Serve hot.
Serve as a main course with rice or flatbreads and a vegetable side such as Spiced Tender Chopped Bindi (page 168). Or, for a larger meal, serve with rice, a stir-fried green vegetable, and Tiger Shrimp with Onions (page 211) or Ginger-Lamb Coconut Milk Curry (page 261), the sweetness of which will balance the green mango nicely.
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
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