Monday, May 01, 2006

Jihva For Mangoes, With a Side of Ambe Dal

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!

ambe dal

Ambe Dal
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
For tempering:
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!


  1. YAY!! Nupur is back! Missed your posts.


  2. I feel like breaking into a jig that u're back.
    Am sure the dal tasted really nice. Am waiting for the pics. The mango tree looked nice. Hey, I've got a can of alphonso mango. that some one was nice enough to bring for me. You got suggestions?

  3. Hi Faffer, I missed you too :) !! Its good to be back!

    Hi Bibo dear! What are you up to? Mail in sometime...
    My favorite thing to do with canned mango: blend it up with some soymilk or milk into a nice frothy milkshake! Serve with vanilla ice cream or just as it is. By the way, canned mango freezes well so you can save the rest quite easily.
    You could add yogurt to make mango lassi too.

  4. Hey, welcome back! I am so happy to see a new post by you.

  5. I've just checked your email.

    Thanks Nupur for this wonderful entry. You rock, picture or no picture.

  6. hi. nupur dear, can i see 1 little just turned hot stove smiling with joy in the backgrnd somewhere? [as we all are in fact]. grt to have you back. with or without yr pictures , you are the best ! luv , yoma.

  7. Nupur: Good to see you back, looks very long to us...Hope you had a great trip.
    Very nice post, looks delicious.

  8. I can't wait to read all those nostalgic mango tales coming up tomarrow. Your's is a good start.
    Thank you

  9. Welcome back, Nupur! Great post.

  10. Hi Nupur,
    Missed your recipes, great to have you back!
    - Manisha

  11. Hey Nupur,
    Great to have you back. I somehow had this hunch that you will participate for JFI, I just did. A great way to re-enter blogosphere.
    Btw, I spotted the coconut leaves and the two ropes. Looked and looked, but didn't find the Chickoo tree, though. I think I need to get my glasses checked now. :)
    So, you've come back without V, huh? Hmmmm...

  12. Nupur, do you want to consider replacing your current profile photo with one from your wedding album?

  13. dear
    Just you wait.We'll be sending you a snap of 'Ambe Dal and you wedding photo on E.Mail.

  14. Wonderful post. Your picture of mango tree made me very nostalgic, looks similar to the place I grew up.

  15. Hi Nupur,

    Have been reading your blog for sometime now and was quite disappointed you'd disappeared. But hey you're back and with a bang! Do post some photos of your wedding if privacy is not an issue, would love to see the Domestic Goddesss dressed as a blushing bride.

  16. Hi Susan, thanks for stopping by :)

    Indira, no, YOU rock!! :)

    Hey Yoma, love you too!

    Hi Kitchenmate, I know, the break seemed very long to me too...really missed blogging!

    Archanat, I can't wait to see all the entries either!

    Thanks, Mika :)

    Manisha, feels so good to be back!

    Vaishali, your blog is looking very good! The chikoo tree has darker leaves...see bottom right :)

    Hi Aie, great to see your comment!

    Hi Thodarumm, thanks so much!

    RP, yeah, mango trees seem to take over the landscape wherever they grow, right? They are just so majestic and beautiful.

    GM, thanks!

    Hi Deepa, yeah, privacy is certainly an issue so no wedding pictures :) Thanks for stopping by!

    Hi Saffron hut, glad to bring back some sweet memories!

  17. Hi Nupur,

    Good to see your blog active again...I have been cooking a lot of Marathi dishes from your blog...ones I ate at my neighbor's growing up but never bothered to find recipes...Which is why was soooooooooooooooooooooo glad to find your blog....Looking fwd to more from you...
    and Yes, a wedding photo ,plz.....I enjoy looking at wedding pictures, well, anyones but mine...

  18. Goodie you are back. Hope you had a lovely time at your wedding and in India in general. I hope V gets the visa sorted out and joins you soon.
    Second - you know the photo of the tree was actually so much better. Thats something none of us could possibly have posted so it was good to see that tree! It brought back memories...
    And seeing that so many have pestered you already I am totally going to do it again. Give us some snoop on your wedding girl :-)

  19. Hey Nupur:

    Congratulations on your wedding. Good to see you back. I am one of those folks that started blogging right about the time you took a break! I have tried some of the Marathi dishes you posted and they are just amazing! Your post really did not need a picture. Your write-up is all it needed :).

  20. Hi Nupur.
    I have been a visitor of ur blog for quite a few months now...have been waiting for u to get back..I actaully chked ur blog y'day and cudnt find the JFI entry...but the first dish on Indira's blog had ur name and I came rushing to it..hehe...
    Hope u had a wonderful trip. A very Happy Married life to the two of u...looking forward to see the wedding pics once Mr.V is back.
    Have a wonderful day

  21. Welcome back, Nupur. Dal-panhe took me back to summer vacations during school days. The only ray of hope is the news that Alphanso mangoes will be allowed from next year to US. :)

  22. Aw, that's so sweet of your parents! Such a lovely pic too. I have realised that parents can make you feel loved (and make you cry because of it) much more easily and much more often after marriage.

  23. hey nup,
    came back to check if u had posted some more stuff. The pic of the ambe dal rocks and it was awesome to see your mom comment and mail you that pic. Say hi to her for me.
    waiting for the wedding pics gal.

  24. Welcome back Nupur. Really missed your blogs. I think your absence really helped as I was able to try your recipes one by one. They all turned out really well. My hubby is from Pune so you can imagine how happy he must have been :-)

  25. hi nupur, just came back to say what a beautiful picture. yr mom may as well start a blog of her own soon....... chip of the same block, eh ? chips of the same blog , sounds more apt , is,nt it ?luv, yoma.

  26. hi nupur, just came back to say what a beautiful picture. yr mom may as well start a blog of her own soon....... chip of the same block, eh ? chips of the same blog , sounds more apt , is,nt it ?luv, yoma.

  27. Hey Nupur !!!!!!!
    Gr8!!!!!!! to see u back....Iam sure u had a lovely time back home...Waiting to hear more!!!

  28. That is a great picture Nupur, Look at them, they are always wonderful, they rock, dont they????

  29. Hi ,
    Welcome back Nupur. Nice recipe.

  30. Yay, Mrs. Nupur V is back! I can look forward to yummy recipes now. While you were away, i stared and drooled at the mango lassi pic. mmmm....yum!

  31. Thanks, everyone!
    And anonymous (the comment before this one), its amusing to see that you have renamed me but I actually have not changed my name after marriage!

  32. Great to see you back,Nupur and a lovely post to start off with...:).

  33. The mango tree photo is beautiful.. made me remember similar mango tree coconut tree and coconut tree we have in our Pune home backyard..


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