Tok Daal - A reflection of sweet & sour relationships!!

Tok - Daal, the one with raw mangoes!! Yummness overloaded..

Anyone who has been close to a Bengali family for sometime, is bound to have found themselves at least once, in the middle of the long - serving debate over " who's the better class " among the 'elite' Ghotis and the 'crude' Bangals !! Be it football or the preparations on the plate, the differences among these two are hard to dissipate soon enough. For most of us in this generation who are the perfect hybrids, borne to the Ghoti - Bangal breed, life is fun watching Maa still complaining about her in - laws being extremely loud, bad - mouthed and uncultured. Baba on the other hand would not stop himself from taunting about the snobbish " bonediyana " of his in - laws having " nuchi " (read luchi / puri ) as breakfast. Everytime Mohun - Bagan won a match, our landline would ring out loud with my Mama ( maternal uncle ) having an infuriating laugh about East Bengal's performance. Baba would however bring some " Bangladeshi Ilish " and invite Mama ( Baba's best friend long before their matrimonial relations ) over to celebrate East Bengal's victory which would be the perfect reason to give a "slow - burn "!!

There's perfect reason for the Bangal's to be so rustic and hard - cored. Whenever I used to chat with my Dadu ( my paternal grandfather ), he just wouldn't stop lamenting about his childhood, wasting his time away during the summer afternoons playing among the numerous aam ( mango ), jaam ( black plum ) and peara ( guava ) gardens which his family owned. Yes ! They were those who had to leave their home, their land and everything dear and move over to a completely new place starting everything from scratch. Though our parents have not experienced this themselves but somehow the same values have been passed on to them making strong - knit families ( even extended families ) in spite of personal differences. Ghotis, however the sophisticated urban lords of Bengal, have had laid back lives since the colonial rule and hence are soft spoken with a keen sense of culture and traditions.

Bengali cuisine has always been famous to an outsider. But ask a Bengali and he can give you an hour long lecture about the food - divide too! Bangals would complain about the sweetness in the savoury Ghoti dishes and Ghotis can't stop talking about the pungency and spicyness of Bangal shutki ( dried fish ) preparations. But foodies like me, who have been on both sides with my Mamabari being Ghoti and in - law's influenced Maa serving Bangal cuisine daily, be it Aloo - Posto or the Lau - Shukto everything is blissful !! Tok ( sourness ) however have been a part of both these cult. Bengalis are in love with their tangy chutneys made with tomato , plum, green papaya or the very special Kaancha Aam ( unripe, raw green mangoes ), an integral part of summers, be it Bangals or Ghotis putting apart their mutual sourness in this case. Aamer tok, aamer achaar, aam panna etc. are common sights in every Indian household during this part of the year but something which was one of my Mamma's ( my thamma, paternal grandmother ) speciality was Tok Daal ( a tangy lentil soup prepared with green mangoes ). On a hot, summer afternoon when you take a spoonful of this sweet - soury meticulously balanced Moong Daal into your mouth, the tit - bits of the mangoes work beautifully and vanishes all your anger management issues ( the 40 degree Celcius being the culprit ).

Kaancha Aam

Daal has always been a favourite of mine, so when it gets titillating and tangy, its difficult to resist yourself with your already watering mouth at the concept of Kaancha Aam mixed in with some sweetness. For those of you who are new to this concept, you don't even need any rice to accompany this, instead enjoy this as a cold soup in a sultry summer afternoon and you will feel utter bliss. And for oldies like us. who miss the homely pleasures give this simple recipe a try and wonder about the greatness of Mother Nature who blessed us with these awesome flavours to enjoy.


  • Raw mangoes - 2, medium sized, peeled, deseeded and cut longitudinally into pieces.

  • Moong Daal - 3/4 cup ( serves a bowlful for 4 - 6 persons comfortably )

  • Dried Red Chilli - 2
  • Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Sugar / Gur - To balance out the sourness, actually depends on your desired level of sweet and sourness.
  • Salt - according to taste
  • Mustard oil - 2 teaspoon
  • Wash the Daal till water runs clear and pressure cook it with a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder, Just wait for one whistle on high flame and wait for the steam to settle on its own, Do not overcook the lentils. We want them to remain a bit grainy in texture.

Daal, left a bit grainy

  • In a kadhai, put in the mustard oil, heat it and temper with the mustard seeds and the dried chillies. Spluttering means, its time to add the mangoes. Saute them for around a minute with a pinch of salt. Cover and let it cook on medium low flame for around 3 minutes.

  • Once you open the lid, mush down the mango pieces a little.

  • Pour over the daal into the kadhai. Mix everything together and let it simmer for around 3 minutes.

  • Add the sugar / gur for the sweetness. If using sugar, you would need at least a tablespoon of it. Increase or decrease the amount accordingly. Once everything is mixed in, wait for over a minute to simmer the daal and then you are done. Enjoy !

You can have this Daal warm but it tastes best when cooled down to room temperature. I can have bowl full of this on a sweaty afternoon everyday, which would soothe me down hoping for a Kalbaishaki in the evenings!!

P.S. You can boil the mango pieces in salt water before sautéing them, for around 2 minutes and discard the water. This would minimise the sourness in the mangoes and would significantly decrease the sugar amount required to tone down the khattas!! 


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