This is a beautiful dal from the Karwar region made in its traditional style. Ambat means "sour" and this is a class of curries from the region that are soured with tamarind usually. They can be vegetarian, as with this recipe, but seafood and meat versions are also made.
Drumsticks are quite fun to eat, I have loved scraping of the tender flesh and seeds from the pods with my teeth, ever since I was a small child. I have never seen the pods eaten anywhere else other than in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, but the leaves are also an important crop in Sub-Saharan Africa, Philippines and Southeast Asia.
This simple to make dal is quite delicious, it is spiced with the traditional Byadgi chiles from the region that give it a sharp and spicy pop of flavor. The tamarind adds a mellow tartness and the coconut a creaminess to the curry. This is a dal that I really enjoyed. I also chose to give the dish a very contemporary display when I brought it to the table, it was a surprise for my guests.
This is a very distinctive cookbook on Karwar cuisine that I adore. The food is intense and authentic, every recipe that I have cooked from here is absolutely delicious. I really have no memory of where and when I bought this cookbook, but I am so glad it sits on my shelf. I highly recommend this cookbook to those who want to master and enjoy this very unique cuisine.
For more recipes from the wonderful cookbook, click here.
1/2 cup toor dal (pigeon peas)
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups drumsticks, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated coconut
5-6 Byadgi chilis, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 + 1/2 cup cup water
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
Cook the toor dal with water and salt in a pressure cooked or Instapot till mushy.
Cook the drumsticks with salt and water till cooked through, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
While the lentils are cooking, purée the coconut, chilies, coriander and water in a small blender to make a smooth paste. Depending on your blender, it will take some time for the coconut and chilies to be completely puréed.
Heat the puréed mix with the additional 1/2 cup water in a pot large enough for the all the ingredients to fit. Simmer for 15 minutes till the chili-coconut mix is cooked and smells aromatic, be careful the liquids do not dry out.
Add the cooked toor dal, drumsticks and tamarind and bring back to a simmer for another 15 minutes. Add water if needed to keep the curry from getting too thick and sticking to the base of the pot. Taste and adjust salt.
Finish with the temper of mustard seeds, heat the oil in a very small vessel (tadka vessel) and add the mustard seeds. They will pop in 10 seconds, remove and pour onto the curry. Mix in.
Serve hot with rice.