Whenever I go to India, I make it a point to buy cookbooks…..let face it the variety of books available on Vegetarian recipes is huge since a large part of the population eats mostly vegetarian food !!Its not just Indian cookbooks that are available but cookbooks with recipes from all over the world ! I try to buy those books or cookbooks that feature different recipes. Both V and I are from the south,both here and in India but thats just an interesting fact …has no bearing here…. I am not a fan of southern American cuisine ! To get back to the point…..I always try to find south Indian recipes that are different, especially from Karnataka , Coorg or the Konkan coast as they are food that he likes best. You would think that this particular recipe is from there…not really …..its from Kerala where I spent my high school years.
I have very fond memories of that place. It is green and lush. I was just growing into my personality and ended up meeting people who influenced me in many ways. I found some good friends and my family were happy. While I loved the place I was not enamored with the cuisine……my excuse is that my palate was not developed then !!!! The cuisine unlike many parts of India is a little more delicate……..whole spices are used more, flavours more delicately balanced , coconut and its by products are used every where and it has a Portuguese influence in some parts of the state. Of course ,then I had no interest in any of this……I could not overlook the fact that there was coconut used in almost everything !!! Now I have learnt to appreciate the cuisine …though I still don’t like coconut too much. Did you know the Tellicherry Peppercorn which is considered the finest peppercorn in the world is exported from there. I did not even know it existed until I left the country !!!!
Back to the recipe….every one knows of my love affair with mangoes. V too loves them and so when we find raw or ripe mangoes we pounce on them . In fact the first dish that I ever ate form V’s house was a mango rice that his dad had made for my dad. He still talks about it…11 years later !!! This past trip to India I made a conscious effort to search for books that had cuisines that V likes and I found this book that had recipes from all 4 southern states and its various regional cuisines. Then I came upon this and I was immediately drawn to it. I did make a few changes but on the whole the recipe was perfect for my family.
MANGAI KUZHAMBU ( MANGO SAMBHAR)
1 cup Thur Dal ( Pigeon Peas )
3-4 Cardamom Pods
a lime sized ball of Tamarind
1 cup Green Mangoes, chopped into chunks
¼ cup sliced Red Onions
1 Green Chilli, cut in half
2-3 tsp Sambhar Powder
Salt to taste
½ tsp Turmeric
5-6 Curry Leaves
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 dry Red Chillies
½ tsp Asafoetida
1 tbsp Cilantro, chopped
Soak the tamarind in 1 ½ cups of warm water for 15 minutes. Extract the juice and keep aside.
In a pan, heat some oil. Add the mustard and cumin seeds. When they start to sizzle add the methi seeds, red chilli , cardamom and asafoetida. Sauté for 30 seconds.
Add the onions, green chillies and mangoes . Sauté for a couple of minutes, till the onions are soft.
Add the sambhar powder and turmeric. Sauté for a minute.
Now add the tamarind pulp, salt and curry leaves.
Partially cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the cooked dal and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat. Garnish with cilantro and serve with plain rice.
This is a very tasty sambhar. You would think that with mangoes and tamarind there would an overdose of sourness but no …it is all balanced . There is a little heat from the sambhar powder and the chillies but that is balanced by the sweetness of the onions and the bitterness from the methi seeds . The green mangoes are somehow sour and sweet at the same time……its the cooking process. The dal gives it body and bulk….lets not forget that it is good for you too.
My additions to this dish are the onions, green chilli and cardamom. The cardamom gives it an exotic touch that elevates it from an usual sambhar. I just threw in the onions and green chillies as I had some that were left over. I have since made it without them and I have to confess the dish tastes just as good. If you are lucky enough to find baby mangoes ….the really small ones…..use them whole . The original recipe calls for them but since I do not get them here , I just use chopped mango.