Oh, it is so nice to be back and blogging again! I just got back from a whirlwind trip of India, exhausted but happy. I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to all those wonderful people who left comments full of good wishes on my last post. I read and cherished each one of them but unfortunately never got the time to reply to each one.
I was so excited to come back and read about Indira's brand-new food blogging event: Jihva for Ingredients (JFI) where each month, we will focus on an Indian ingredient. I was even more excited to read the theme for this month: Mangoes! After all, I just got back from India where it was the very peak of mango season. This is just the perfect event for a first post after my blogging hiatus!
My parents' backyard in Kolhapur is dominated by a huge, old mango tree. Every summer, this tree sags under the weight of hundreds of wonderful alphonso mangoes. At the beginning of summer, the raw mangoes are used to cook a variety of dishes, and preserved in the form of many delicious pickles to be relished throughout the year. This year, the kairis (raw mangoes) were used to make "chhunda" a sweet-and-sour mango relish (I returned from my trip bearing two bottles of this delicious sticky stuff). Last year, the tree produced a huge crop of mangoes and there were a lot left over even after they were shared with neighbors, friends and acquaintances. My ever-resourceful parents managed to find a fruit-canning factory and to persuade them to can some of these mangoes. So lucky me, I also brought back two cans of mangoes with me.
Here is a picture of the backyard mango tree, taken from the window of the upper-floor bedroom that my sister and I shared when we were kids:
Can you spot these in the picture?
1. Branches of a coconut tree (a neighbour of the mango tree)
2. Branches of a "chikoo" tree (the other neighbor of the mango tree)
3. Two ropes...these are part of a little swing that hangs from the mango tree
For the "Jihva for Mangoes" event, I chose a typical Marathi dish called Ambe Dal. In the summer months, when the sweltering heat overpowers the afternoons, people are not often in the mood for hot tea. Panha, the mango drink that I wrote about in the A-Z of Marathi food, is often served in place of tea at afternoon events during these months. The traditional snack that accompanies the panha is this ambe dal. A cool, spicy, tart relish, ambe dal provides a great counterpoint to the sweet panha. Dal-Panha events are something to look forward to!
Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the ambe dal to show you. The reason: I left the camera with V in India (he was to return this week but is facing some visa processing delays) so until he gets back, I have no camera! I had a choice between blogging sans pictures or not blogging at all, and I thought I would go ahead and blog and insert pictures at a later time.
Edited on 5/2 to add: I do have a picture to show you!!! My wonderful parents in India actually made ambe dal and took this picture and mailed it to me so that I could share it with you :) How sweet is that! Thanks, Aai and Baba for this fantastic picture!
Serves 2-3 as a snack, Preparation Time: 15 minutes (not including soaking time)
1 cup chana dal (split Bengal gram, available at Indian grocery stores)
1/2 cup raw mango, peeled and grated coarsely
2 tbsp minced cilantro
2 tbsp grated coconut
pinch of sugar
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
4-5 curry leaves
2 red chillies, broken into pieces
1. Soak the chana dal for 4-6 hours, then rinse several times and drain.
2. Grind the chana dal into a coarse semi-dry consistency.
3. For tempering, heat oil, then add the rest of the ingredients. Add tempering into the dal and mix well.
4. Add the salt, sugar, mango, cilantro and coconut into the dal, mix well and serve.
I can't wait to see all the amazing mango recipes that everyone comes up with. Thanks, Indira, for hosting (and being the brainchild behind) this wonderful event!