Saturday, February 28, 2009

Masoor Dal -- revisited with Mangoes


So we all know about the rising food costs and the plunging economy. We also know about food wastage in the first world countries. Being born and brought up in a developing country we were not used to wasting food. Food or Anna was sacred for us, something to be revered. If I didn't eat up my food, my Ma reminded me about the kids who went without them and those kids weren't some that I saw in a magazine page, they were right outside my home. Food wasn't something to be thrown away unless it had gone bad or was spoiled beyond consumption and those situations were ardently avoided.

Here in my daughter's school they have this rule of throwing away leftover lunch. Even when the kids get home lunch, if they don't finish it up, they just throw it away. They cannot save leftover food for some quality adherence issues, and so perfectly good food goes to trash. Food that could have fed millions of hungry child finds its way in the compost heap. And this is not only with this school, I see a similar scenario in atleast all other pre-school/daycares.

I tell my daughter that we don't throw away food and we try not to at home. If she doesn't finish her lunch or dinner, either I just eat it (and now you know why Google puts adds like "Cut 1lb off your stomach" on my page) or I save it for later. Usually I start off by serving really small portions, and giving her more only if she wants it. But that is not always possible when I pack food for lunch. So how much food do your kids waste every day and what do you do to control it ?

On the other hand have you ever tried to keep a tab on how much your every day food costs ? Go over to this blog to see how two social justice teachers tried to eat at just One Dollar a Day for 30 days. They say it wasn't healthy though and no one should attempt to repeat it, so eating cheap is not healthy.

But really in our effort to eat right and Organic (expensive at least in my area) and go Local (which is again expensive where I live) how much are we spending on food some of which we might just be wasting ?

With Masoor Dal you can never go wrong and not eat it. A bowl of Dal is also pretty cheap even when you add a green mango. I had blogged about Tak er Dal earlier but with Matar Dal/Yellow Split Peas. Since Masoor Dal is a staple in my pantry I made Tak er Dal with Masoor & Green Mangoes this time. As BWM said in her comment, the orginal Tak Dal has a phoron or is tempered with Mustard Seeds & Dr Red Chillies, here I have used Paanch Phoran & Dry Red Chillies instead.

This Dal is a staple at my home in India only during summer because thats the season for green mangoes. Here I am guilty of buying a green mango, not grown locally and out of season, but at least I just got one mango and didn't waste any of it.


This goes off to Susan of the very well known Well Seasoned Cook for MLLA - 8, she is the creator as well as the hostess of this legumy affair

Masoor Dal with Mangoes (Tak Musuri'r Dal)

Serves about 4-5 adults when served as part of a meal

How I Did It

Peel a green mango and chop in smallish cubes. I used half of this the rest including the kernel was saved for a small serving of ambol

Wash 1 cup of Red Massor Dal(Red Lentil) and boil with 3 cups of water, 3 slit green chillies, 1/4 tsp turmeric and salt in a heavy bottomed pan. Alternately you can cook the dal in the pressure cooker as I did here.

The dal should be cooked well, so well that the legumes will be soft and mushed up. After it is done, whisk the Dal with a fork or a whisk

Heat Mustard Oil (or any other Oil) in a Kadhai or a deep frying pan

When the Oil is hot, add 1 tsp of Paanch Phoran and 2 Dry Red Chillies

As soon as the spices sputter, add about 1 cup of chopped cubed green mangoes and 1/4 tsp of turmeric

Saute for some time say 4-5 minutes at medium heat. The mangoes will be pale yellow in color and have softened a little by now

Add the cooked Dal and 1 and 1/2 cup of water (I like my dal soupy and add more water)

Stir well and cover & cook at medium heat till mangoes are done. As the dal simmers it soaks up more flavor.

Add 1 tsp of sugar and salt to taste

Just before serving, heat 1tsp of Mustard Oil and temper with 1/4 tsp of Paanch Phoron and 2 dry red chiilies. Pour this over the dal to get more zing. I would suggest do not sidestep this and definitely use Mustard Oil for at least this step.

Have it as a soup or with Plain Rice

Other Similar Dals from my Kitchen:

Tak er Dal -- Yellow Split Peas with green mnagoes

Musuri'r Dal or Red Masoor Dal

Trivia: Interesting article on Decision between Organic & Local itself is not easy


  1. Sandeepa,
    Thats really strange !! , My lil one brings back that the left-overs form her Lunch-box and it ends up in my stomach or sometimes MIL joins with me also ;)..
    But such a wastage of food is very sad..
    kinto jodi tumaar meye left-over niye ashte chaye to ki oke mana kore kimba boke?
    hugs and smiles

  2. Hmmmmmm.....eta amra gorom kal-e praye roj roj khai!! Ebar banatei hobe :) Thanks!

  3. I didn't know about food being thrown away in schools !! Seriously what a waste!!!

    Aam-daal looks good. It is one of favs. But eta ki gorom kale'r prelude ? Naaki global warming-e sheet-kal khatm ?

  4. Even I struggle with these questions, but can't help myself buying some politically incorrect food when I see it - waste is something I struggle with constantly so this time when I went abroad, I only got two packets of something - for one-pot meals. I've wasted several dollars earlier in quest of gourmet/ethnic eating experiences.

    Somehow I never seem to use up everything in my pantry.

  5. man your pix themselves are so yummy!

    about food getting wasted - i don't keep food overnight - so whatever is cooked today has to be eaten today itself. when its just us, i usually get it right. when we have friends over if stuff gets left i pack it and give it to them. often the help takes it home.

  6. i cook a very similar dish with moong dal and mangoes. never thought of using masoor dal instead.

    and i know what you mean about wasting food. i eat everything on my plate, including curry leaves!

  7. I understand what you mean. I too serve the kids smaller portions...they can always have more later, and also make sure that they finish it up.Even when we are guests at othetr places, I make sure that the kids are not served a huge pile of food on their plates.Touchwood...I do get empty plates 99.99% of the time.

    I am a bit of a hoarder too, but it is more dried ingredients which have a long shelf life. AS for those that don't, I manage to use it up. It drives me nuts to see TV cooks being shown chucking perfectly good food into the bin!!!

    Your dal, btw, is making me very hungry :-)

  8. I do the same thing S, try not throw it away but save it for next day's lunch. Now, after reading your blog and Siri's, I am seriously thinking of detoxing myself and try to shop less groceries and cook less amount for 4 than I usually do. I am thinking of going liquid Rasam detox for 2-3 days a week! Just some Tuar or Moong dal in Tomato broth! :D

    In school, they do throw all the leftover away. School food is bad anyway, so it's good if they choose just enough to eat. Organic is expensive here too, don't think it's worth spending that much.

    Moong dal with Mangoes looks delicious, don't get green mango here. Enjoy! :)

  9. Jaya
    Yeah I know thats what we did back in school, remember. But here they don't allow that (I am talking about pre-school/daycare here). I have talked to the teachers about it but they can't do it because it is against their policy. Imagine I would send small packs of organic milk, yogurt etc. and if not fully eaten they would be just thrown away!!!
    Now that S is much older she tries to eat most of her lunch so it is better.

    Hyan garom er i dal to

    If you look around you will see food being thrown away in more places.
    Aaj snow poreche, puro messed up abastha, kichudin age i mone holo spring

    It is difficult to buy politically correct food. At least in India, you get local which is not expensive but then they are pesticide laden and remotely organic.
    Here the organic is much more expensive than regular and the most I can buy is MIlk & Eggs. It is way beyond my budget to get everything organic

    I do cook in bulk since I don't get time to cook every weekday, but that is food well stored and eaten
    I should have been your friend, I just love it when people pack fooods for me after dinner at their place :)

    Ok that is something, have never had a curry leaf by itself

    That is the right thing to do. I have seen some Moms just loading their kid's plates and then the kid not eating half of it. What is the point ?

    If you want green mangoes , drop me a line, I can send you some

  10. I do the same - I finish my dinner and then finish Malvika's! Now with a congestion for the past week, she eats a bite or two and then says she is done. And so I end up eating more ghee-plied stuff. Dal sounds delicious!
    Oh btw, inspired by you, I looked up some Zumba videos online but could not hang on even for the 10 minutes that the video lasted! It was high impact and fast paced. But it was so much fun! :)

  11. hmm..i love tak dal. Shall try it out this summer.
    As for the school part, I`m a lil surprised. What`s the logic behind throwing away food, I wonder.. I mean if its for safety reasons or something, food doesnt get bad so soon! I dunno..

  12. i have some frozen green mangoes, and i'm in love with masoor dal. win win. grow your own food. that's the best and cheapest. i just got five packet sof veggie seeds yesterday for 99 cents.

  13. DD brings home the uneaten lunch and she finishes. Some schools have strange rules, it's like parents need to be treated like kids too, no wonder we see so many man children walking around. Same here our milk is definitely organic and so are the eggs and chicken most times but the rest I can't afford. I soak them in water for 1/2 hour before cooking ;) I feel organic foods have to be supported to promote sustainable farming, conventional large scale farming hurts the neediest the most.

    I have been using a lot of mangoes, just made some mango sambhar this afternoon.

  14. Hey Sangeeta,
    Its always a treat to read ur posts. I just started follwoing ur blog recetly & I love ur writing style & recipes. I had tried ur kalakand a while ago and it was fantastic! Great sense of humor & stories ! Keep it up!

  15. Sandeepa,back home fish head was always added to the fish curries and though a little challenging to eat by far offered some of the tastiest morsels. I have tried fish roe just once not much. Here too if I get fresh fish from the waterfront I add it to the curry otherwise there is no head just skinless fish fillets.

  16. There was an article in Times, in recession time people will gain weight (cannot loose), because they tend to grab the lowest price food,just for cheaper dollar. Wasting is the cruel thing! May be we are used to see some real situation in India, but ur kids don't. The dhal is looking good and I love the pendant!

  17. Hi Sandeepa

    Thanks once again for the timely as well as wonderful post.

    I know that Western countries are preaching people to eat out less and have more dinners at home...

    Faced a very funny situation while talking to my colleagues in Singapore and US. They found it so difficult to understand that even in the homes of Billionaire Indians, there is always a home cooked meal... and their usual preference.

    Jokes apart, please try once tok daal with shorshe shukno lanka phoron.

    Did ur little girl enjoy this daal?

  18. Amar hubby did notice this wasting of coffee/food in his office in the US ... but I did not know about children being encouraged to throw away food!
    Isn't it teaching them total disrepect for food .. when even in that country poverty & unemployment do exist too.

    Aam dal is a fav Sandeepa. :-) ... especially with shukhno lonka and paanch phoron. :-)

  19. I was shocked recently when a dear friend came over to stay and saw her routinely serving her 2 year old with the same amount of food my four year old eats. Of course, a part of it went waste each time and she would throw it all away!
    Why is it that many moms live in the hope that their child will magically develop a gargantuan appetite?

    I guess,in a way those dire stories our parents used to tell us have served us well - I see when we eat out, desis like us always calculate how much food would be just enough, whereas many expats seem to order dishes without worrying about whether one can finish that or not. AND many of them don't "pack" leftovers...

    Of course, this is a generalisation and the reverse must also be true.

    The dal with mango is a favourite of mine and I think every region in India has a version. yours looks scrumptious and I love the necklace.

  20. Vani
    To avoid eating the ghee laden stuff, I stopped cooking her food in ghee after she turned 2. I used to ghee to each individual serving instead
    Zumba is fast paced but fun

    It is for some health hygiene related reason, am not sure of exact logic

    Growing ones own is no doubt the best, only with my limited land & labor I can grow for only a few meals

    Shall try mango sambhar, still have some of your powder :)
    I used to buy organic chicken for S but we had very limited choice, like we usually buy cornish for ourselves, but I don't get it organic. Now for the baby I get organic baby food(Gerber) and carrots, but that is it.

    Thanks :)

    Simple, that pasta or the carbs are more cheaper than protein, right ?


    I think many Americans with kids et al, do try to cook a home meal most days of the week. Actually I think it becomes difficult cooking every day with no help etc.
    As I see myself if I have to cook up a dinner every single day, it becomes too much so I cook for at least 2-3 days at a time and store.

    Amar Ma o sorshe-shukno lanka phoron dey, ekhuni update kore debo post ta


    They have some hygiene related issues about storing half eaten food in the classroom, so they can't do it


    Yeah I have seen Moms do that too and if at my home they will ask me "So shall I eat this or thropw it?" i.e. their kids' leftover.
    What do I say !!!!

  21. What a wastage - makes my head reel . Have you tried giving her smaller portions ? Are they very strict about emptying the lunchboxes? Sad , na ? Deshey lok khetey paye na- ki aar korbey. Your aam dal reminds me of summer - which is not very far away - am dreading it !

  22. MY not so lil one brings back half the lunch on the weirdest pretexts.. i could start a blog just on his excuses. but no, i can't eat it as i feel it's already gone thru a whole day outside.. food wastage at home.. that's another matter altogether..i try to serve small and then go for second helpings.

  23. I did not know you moved! Good u have ur own place now.
    Sandeepa I have given instructions in both my kids' school to put back the leftover in the box instead of tossing it in trash. I have no idea how they can take a perfectly untouched sandwich & dump it without feeling guilty... may be the way we grew up that we see it & they don't.

    amader barite tok dal shob shomoye musur dal diye hoto & ami khabar sheshe chumuk diye khetam:-) Knacha aam to dekhlam na.. i have to go see, for this reminder is making me crave.

  24. I used to work for a huge multi-national corporation with a decent cafeteria. They had a program with local soup kitchens where they donated the unsold food for consumption that day while it was still fresh and healthy. Too bad more do not adopt this admirable policy.

    Adore green mangoes, Sandeepa. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe for MLLA8!

    Round-up will be ready in a few more days.

  25. It's a delight to visit ur blog... Nice click and I just started following ur blog recetly.... :)
    yummy recipes..... :))))

  26. I also don't like wasting food and often find myself trying to create dishes with leftovers. Your dal is very innovative, the addition of mangoes sounds tasty!

  27. I am very new to your blog & this particular post interested me, since even my daughter's daycare throws away the food. First of all they don't allow food from home, so I have no control over the portions being served, which for a tiny desi girl is a bit much. I cringe not only at all the food that is wasted everytime, but also the habits my daughter is forming. She has come to understand that if she eats slow enough, she can get away with not eating most of the stuff. Also had they saved the food, I would be able to monitor as to really how much she eats and would try to makeup for the other groups of food during dinner time. But now I just have to contend with the teacher's feedback which will mostly be positive (not the full truth) 'coz they don't want to portray that kids under their care don't eat a full meal. I just can't wait for her to start school, so that I can give her home packed lunches. Atleast this way I know if she is getting enough of her nutrients.

  28. Can someone tell us how we actually cook the dal?

    I know its a ridiculous question but no matter how long and I mean it has simmered for over an hour it is still really hard and just inedible?

  29. Anon

    Which lentil are you talking about ? The Red Masoor Dal doesn't really take much long to cook, an hour is way too much.

    There are some dals that do take longer but definitely not Red Masoor. Send me a mail with a pic of the packet of Dal and I might help

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  31. sandeepa.. have to do two rounds of tadka really?


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