Grandma’s house was surrounded by trees. From tall eucalyptus to a large imli (tamarind) tree, one we were usually bouncing off of because we were addicted to the fruit. Jamun and guavas were another favorite specially for me because they didn’t demand climbing in order to pick a fruit off of them. Lines of Gulmohar and Asoka were probably there just to look pretty because although they didn’t bear fruits which to me, as a kid, didn’t justify the cause of but they sure looked good. And then there the mangoes. Oh the mighty and sacred, Indian mangoes!
A couple in the back of the house which were smaller but bore fruits which were heavenly and then this one grand one, in front of the house, right outside the rusty metal gate which separated grandma’s yard from the mango tree itself. So technically the tree was not hers and any passerby could pluck one and enjoy the fruit from it. Grandma insisted that was not the case and whoever wanted to eat mangoes from HER tree, needed to seek her permission. Of course us kids never followed that rule and there would be havoc every time she saw one of us on the tree. But we also knew, grandma couldn’t run!
But then we also had to come back home at the end of the day, with hands full of “grandma’s” young raw green mangoes. She would give us “the eye” and we would steal one from her. And she would grab a couple from our hands and go, “follow me, let me teach you something that is of use to you.”, walking towards the kitchen. We’d pour some lentils out, wash them under running water while grandma cut the raw mangoes to add to the soup. Within minutes the veranda would smell nutty, of the simmering Khatti Dal in an open pot and we would be huddled around grandma listening to her stories about her teatimes with the queen, munching on thin silvers of raw mango sprinkled with salt and red chili powder.
Toor Dal (split yellow lentil)- 1 cup
Water- approx. 4 cups (plus extra to wash the dal)
Young Raw Mangoes- 2-3 (pitted and cut into smaller pieces)
Salt Turmeric- 1 teaspoon
Ghee- 1 1/2 teaspoon
Asafetida- 1 pinch
Garlic- 1 teaspoon
Panch Foran Spice- 1 teaspoon
Red Chili Powder- 1 teaspoon
Wash lentils with fresh water. Drain the water. Transfer washed dal into a cooking pot or pressure cooker if you are using one.
Add cut raw mangoes, turmeric, salt and approx. 4 cups of water. Cook, until the water comes to a rolling boil. Turn the heat down to low. Cover and cook for approx. 30 minutes or until the lentils are cooked through along with the mangoes.
Turn off the heat. gently mash the mangoes and mix the dal with a spoon. Set aside.
For tadka, heat ghee in a small tadka or frying pan. Add asafetida followed by garlic and panch foran spices. Cook for a minute, until the garlic turns golden.
Add red chili powder. Immediately turn off the heat. Transfer tadka to the cooked dal. Stir well. Garnish with cilantro or any other micro green or minced spinach, if you like. Serve hot as a soup with bread or rice.