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Ambe dal (Vaatli dal with kairi)

Yellow coloured chana dal and raw mango salad, known as ambe dal. The salad is tempered with red chillies and mustard seeds and garnished with coriander leaves and freshly grated coconut
Ambe dal / Vaatli dal with kairi

Vaatli means ground and dal means lentils. Ambe dal is nothing but vaatli dal with the addition of raw mango to enhance its taste and seasonal nutrition value. It is a dal (legume) salad with the addition of kairi and almost no-cook recipe. The dal used for vaatli dal is mostly chana dal, and with the combination of simple spices and garnishes, it tastes truly ambrosial. A protein-rich, vegan dish fit for the gods.

My aajji too used to make this vaatli dal for festive meals, but it was differently made in our household. We call it kosambiri and it was made with moong dal, cucumbers, coconut and raw mango in its season. My aajji’s kannadiga touch to our meals was always evident inspite of the fact that she spent a major chunk of her life in Maharashtra.

My Childhood Memories

I still vividly remember the social festivities around Ganesh Chaturthi when I was a kid. We all kids used to visit our neighbours’ houses, one by one, to partake in the Ganesh aarti and above all to relish vaatli dal, panchamrut, pedha, modak, and many more yummy things lovingly distributed as Bappa’s prasad.

Ganesh chaturthi was always a grand event in our society or you can say entire Maharashtra for that matter, and everyone visited every house who had a Bappa for those few days to take blessings.

Modak is mentioned last in this list as ukadiche modak (steamed modak) was not usually offered as prasad to us kids who visited every evening mainly to hog on prasad. The time-intensive delicacy and bappa’s favourite sweet was usually reserved only for the family members 😉

Ambe dal with panha

This summer, I decided to recreate those lovely memories by making ambe dal and panha as a weekend snack for my family. For those unversed with traditional Maharashtrian foods, panha, a raw mango drink, is usually served with ambe dal or vaatli dal as a haldi-kumkum snack or is a part of the traditional thaali on festive occasions like Gudi Padwa or Ram Navami.

Chana dal and raw mango salad, known as ambe dal served with a raw mango drink, known as panha
Ambe dal with panha

Ambe dal is usually served in small quantities as it is a heavy-to-digest snack. If you wish, you can replace chana dal with moong dal which is light on the stomach.

Ingredients for Ambe dal

1 cup soaked chana dal- soaked for 5-7 hours

2 green chillies- roughly chopped

1 inch ginger- roughly chopped

1/4th cup raw mango/kairi- chopped into fine pieces/grated. One can increase/decrease the quantity of kairi as per its sourness.

0.5 tsp turmeric powder

Salt to taste

0.5 tsp sugar to balance the sour mango – optional. I skipped adding it.

For tempering/tadka:

1.5 tbsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

A pinch of asafoetida/hing

8-10 curry leaves

2 broken and deseeded dried red chillies

For garnishing:

Finely chopped coriander leaves

Freshly grated coconut

Recipe for ambe dal:

Prepare the dal:

  • Firstly, prepare the dal mixture by coarsely grinding the dal + green chillies + ginger + turmeric powder + raw mango pieces in the dry mixer jar without adding any water. Use the incher/whip/pulser of the mixer to pulse the dal coarsely. This step is very important as otherwise the dal can get ground finely and becomes pasty.
  • Do not grind the entire mixture finely. Let a few pieces of the dal and raw mango retain their shape in the mixture. They bring out their robust flavours in every morsel.

Make the tadka:

  • After preparing the dal, prepare the tadka by heating the oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and when they start spluttering, lower the heat and add the rest of the tadka ingredients.
  • To this tadka, add the prepared dal mixture and mix well on a low heat.
  • Add salt and sugar as per taste and mix it for 2-3 minutes till the mixture loses its extra moisture and becomes a bit dry in texture.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and coconut before serving.

Hope you try making this recipe and enjoy it. It truly is a classic. To try out other tangy mango recipes, check out methamba, kairichi chutney and chitranna on my blog here. My panha recipe is on its way. Stay tuned…