Genetic predispositions and ‘pappus’, easy-peasy everyday foods

“So how exactly do you make the thick pappu (dal) that Andhra households serve?” The inquirer was an elderly uncle of my husband’s and i was a new bride; the dish in question was “mudda pappu” (literally “lump of dal”)! Apparently said uncle had eaten it in many Andhra households and he had been trying – unsuccessfully – to get the ‘ladies’ to reproduce it in his kitchen – i must mention that I am married to a Tamilian and “pappu” by itself is not really a main dish in most Tamil households – it’s served as a couple of teaspoons to accompany other dishes.
His question stumped me though – how could anyone not know how to make ‘mudda pappu’?!! As it formed a major part of my diet till i got married, i thought it was one of those things that you just did – like making rice… or boiling water or sumpin… explanations and questions (do you roast the toor dal before cooking it? how much water should i put? how many whistles of the pressure cooker should i cook it for?) – phew!!
Got to thinking about it and realised that it’s exactly the same as teaching a South Indian to roll a perfect phulka – it’s acquired, NOT in the blood!! And each region has its own set of dishes for which they go “you really don’t know how to make this???” for everyday foods.
One of those everyday foods in a Telugu household is “maamidikaayi pappu” (raw mango dal) which i laughed my guts out to see on a 5-star hotel menu as part of an “exotic Andhra cuisine” festival!! “Seriously, you don’t know how to make this?”!!!
So here’s how to make this!
Maamidikaayi pappu (raw mango dal)
Raw mango – 1 small – peel and cut up any which way you like – i just slice them roughly – don’t chop up fine though. If the seed in hard, leave it in. If it’s still soft and white, discard. The hard seed is great to suck on while eating the dal – not very elegant though
Toor dal – 1 cup – cooked in 2 cups water along with a pinch of turmeric – 4 whistles and simmer for 5 minutes before you ask -you just might be an elderly uncle!!
Green chilies – 2 – sliced
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Urad dal – 1/2 tsp
Jeera (cumin seeds) – 1/2 tsp
1 large pinch turmeric
1 large pinch asafoetida
Jaggery – 1 tbsp (for a medium sour mango, more if it’s very sour)
Ghee (only ghee, oil just won’t do for this one) – 1 tbsp
Fresh coriander – chopped – 1 tbsp
Heat ghee in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add urad dal and jeera. Add asafoetida, curry leaves and chilies. Fry for a few seconds. Add mango and turmeric and half cup of water.
Cover and cook for about 5 minutes till the mango pieces are tender. Add the jaggery and the cooked dal. Add salt and water till the dal is a thick pouring consistency. Bring to the boil and switch off. Garnish with coriander and serve with hot rice. You really don’t need a side dish with this dal – except maybe an ‘aavakai’!