Cumin-Scented Pigeon Peas with Mango (Mango Curry with Toor Dal)
Have you heard?
Rob stalks grocery stores once a year for it. Now they’ve arrived.
It is mango season. Not just any mango, though.
Alphonso mangoes have touched down from India. Thankfully, before our move away from Little India.
We picked up a case of nice Ataulfo mangoes last week because we weren’t sure when the Alphonsos would arrive. Lucky for us, it wasn’t long before they began popping up in Little India. On Thursday, they had a new shipment. By the end of the day, there were only 2 cases left. They are flying like hotcakes!
For the last two years, Rob and I have trekked out to buy these sweet and creamy mangoes. This is the first year it isn’t such a trek to locate them. We’ve made many mango dishes, both sweet and savoury, and now we’ve added another favourite to the list: this fabulous mango curry from 660 Curries which Iyer titled Cumin-Scented Pigeon Peas with Mango.
This curry follows the key steps of toasting and grinding spices, simmering the dal with different flavours and tempering another set of spices in oil that are added in at the end. But first, you need to make your own garam masala. Trust me on this. I know you have garam masala already lurking in your spice rack. This garam masala is different: it has sesame seeds, peanuts and coconut. We decreased the chilis and it was fragrant and savoury without unnecessary heat. For those who don’t want more spice blends, the recipe below is exactly for one recipe, but you will want to make more once you get a whiff of the final blend. We wished we had made more, so don’t follow in our footsteps.
While I just harped on this being Alphonso mango season, this mango curry does not need to be made with fancy mangoes. We used Ataulfos because we picked them up for cheap, but Tommy Atkins will work just fine, and frozen chunks, too. If Alphonso mangoes weren’t $2 each we’d gladly use them, though. Like the Mango BBQ Beans, the mango in this curry melts into oblivion leaving its sweet remains behind. Distinct mango flavour is camouflaged among the curry leaves, coconut and peanut. Everything works so well together. Sweet, spicy, savoury…
This is a delicious curry that you won’t be disappointed it. We’ve been eating at a few Indian restos recently and I still think the best Indian cooking happens in our kitchen. With this dish, there is no contest.
Cumin-Scented Pigeon Peas with Mango (Ambyachi Dal)
Adapted from 660 Curries
2 cups split pigeon peas (toor dal) – or try split yellow peas
2 medium-sized firm, ripe mangoes, peeled and coarsely chopped (around 1.5 cups)
1 recipe or 4 tbsp Sesame-Flavoured Blend with Peanuts and Coconut (see below)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground turmeric
20-24 fresh curry leaves
2 tbsp oil
4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1. Begin by making your spice blend (see below).
2. Wash toor dal well. Place in a large pot along with 6 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, uncovered. Remove and discard any scum that forms. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the peas and partially tender.
3. Add the mango, garam masala, salt, turmeric, curry leaves and an additional 2 cups of water to the dal. Cover pot and simmer for an additional 30-40 minutes, until the peas and meltingly tender and falling apart.
4. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized skillet, heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle, turn brown and are fragrant, around 5-10n seconds. Remove the skillet immediately from heat and add cilantro. It will crackle as it contacts the hot oil, so watch out.
5. Once the dal is tender, partially mash the peas if desired. Add the seasoned oil mixture to the dal and stir to mix well. Continue to allow the curry to simmer, uncovered, an additional 5-10 minutes to allow the flavours to harmonize.
Sesame-Flavoured Blend with Peanuts and Coconut (Maharashtrian Garam Masala)
Adapted from 660 Curries
1 tbsp raw peanuts, shelled
1.5 tsp white sesame seeds
3/4 tsp coriander seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp Aleppo chile flakes
pinch freshly grated nutmeg (or a pinch of grated mace-do not toast it though)
1 blades mace (or a pinch of grated mace, or alternatively more nutmeg-do not toast it though)
1 tbsp shredded dried unsweetened coconut
1. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, toast peanuts, sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chile flakes, nutmeg and mace until fragrant and toasted, around 3-4 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside to cool.
2. In the same skillet over medium-high heat, toast the coconut the coconut until fragrant and light brown, around 30 seconds. Add the coconut to the cooling spices.
3. Once the spices have cooled, grind it in a spice grinder (if you do it too soon and it is still warm, it can become cakey).
Makes 4 tbsp, enough for the above recipe.
Can easily be doubled, tripled, etc.
Store in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for up to 2 months.