Bengal is known for its culinary history that goes back to more than thousand years. In fact, Bengal's gastronomy is a melting pot of many influences, making it unique and diversified (as its culture). But what manages to strike the chord every single time is the use of local and seasonal produce. In Bengal, the food habit changes as per the season. While winter is synonymous to pithe-puli (sweet meat made with jiggery) and payesh (Bengali kheer), monsoon is all about Illish mach (hilsa fish). Then we have the scorching summer season. The extreme heat and humidity call for food that are cool and hydrating - helping to keep up body's water balance. Besides, these foods include seasonal fruits and vegetables too. Take aam (mango), for instance. If you explore, you will find almost every dish including mango in some way or the other. From aam-er chop (aloo pakoda with mango) to aam-er chutney (mango chutney) - you get it all during the summers. Another such popular mango-based Bengali dish is raw mango dal.
Quintessentially referred to as tok dal or aam dal, it makes for a classic meal during the hot afternoons in Bengal. Aam dal includes 'khatti' raw mangoes, infused in dal made with masoor dal (red lentil) or matar dal (yellow split peas). It is light, comforting and adds a balance of salty, sweet and tangy flavours to your palate. And the best part is tok dal is just so simple and basic! All you need to do is pair it with bhaat (steamed rice) and aloo chokha (aloo bharta) and indulge. You can also have a slice of gondhoraj lebu (not any regular lime) by the side for added aroma. Sounds delicious and oh-so-comforting; right? This is why, we bring the recipes of tok dal and aloo chokha that will help you enjoy a cooling lunch during the summer season. Take a look.
Bengali-Style Raw Mango Dal Recipe | How To Make Tok Dal:
As mentioned earlier, you can use masoor dal or matar dal for this dish. Here, we preferred using the regular masoor dal. First, wash the dal properly and boil with salt, turmeric and red chilli. Keep aside.
In a pan, add some mustard oil and temper whole red chilli and mustard seeds in it. then add deskinned, de-seeded and sliced raw mangoes, salt and sugar and cook for a while to soften the mangoes. You can add some water to speed up the process.
Then add the dal and boil for some time. Adjust salt and sugar as per your taste. Just remember, it has to have a balance of salty, sweet and tangy flavours. That's it. Your tok dal is ready to be relished.
Click here for the detailed tok dal recipe.
Bengali-Style Aloo Bharta Recipe | How To Make Aloo Chokha:
Wash, deskin and boil the potatoes. Always cut the potatoes into four halves to speed up the process of boiling. Then in a kadhai, add oil and temper kalonji (nigella seeds) and whole red chilli. To it, add chopped onions and fry until they turn light brown in colour. Now mash the potatoes and add to the kadhai and mix everything well. Add salt as per taste. When you get to see a greasy texture on the potato, switch off the flame and serve. Trust us, the recipe is as simple as it sounds.
Click here for the detailed aloo chokha recipe.
Now, all you are left with is to prepare rice. And to help you with that, we have three amazing tips to prepare perfect, non-sticky rice. Click here to know more.
Try this combination and let us know how you liked it. Happy summers!
About Somdatta SahaExplorer- this is what Somdatta likes to call herself. Be it in terms of food, people or places, all she craves for is to know the unknown. A simple aglio olio pasta or daal-chawal and a good movie can make her day.