Ripe mango dal : Asthma by any other name!

“Please, Teacher, the HM (headmistress) would like to see you in the office. Could you come now?” asks the school attendant of our class teacher. We kids all stare – it is good to have a distraction, though we are still too small (five years old and in class 1!) to really make the most of a teacher’s occasional absence from the classroom.

The young and beautiful teacher, who’s won all our hearts with her kindness, looks around. It seems okay… the class is pretty quiet and manageable. She decides to trust us and leaves a monitor – me – in charge. Tells the class to be quiet and to continue to do their work without making a noise and disturbing any of the other classes nearby. Also gives me clear instructions. If I find anyone “talking too much”, I am to write their names down in a little book she gives me.

I am quite a conscientious little girl so I do my job, impartially writing down names of everyone who is “talking” – including a couple of my best friends!

Teacher comes back andasks for my notebook. I hand it over proudly – this is the first time in my life that I have handled such serious responsibility and I am quite proud of myself.

She looks at my list and quickly suppresses a grin.  Her “Very good, Anuradha,” makes me literally swell with pride!

Then she asks, “Is either of your parents a doctor?”

“Yes,” I answer, thinking this teacher is even more awesome (no, the word did not exist then, except maybe in reference to cathedrals or other grand things!) than I had first thought – how did she know?

Then gently and carefully, very mindful of my feelings, she explains to me that the name “Asma” is not to be confused with the word “asthma” which is an ailment! I knew my friend’s name – the one who had been talking and had to have her name written up in the list but the only version I was familiar with was the one I’d seen in the little prescription pads which medical reps handed out to all doctors!

No one ever warned you about the hazards of parental occupations! The perils of a monitor’s hazards pale in comparison 🙂

But all pale in front of this unusual…

RIPE MANGO DAL/Maamidipandla Pappu


  • Toor dal – 1 cup
  • Ripe tomatoes – 2 – chopped
  • Ginger – 1 cm piece
  • Green chilies – 2
  • Turmeric – 1 pinch

Pressure all these together with 2.5 cups water for three whistles. Whisk when cool.


  • Ripe mango – – not squishy-ripe but firm-ripe – 1 cup – chunked – Thothapuri or mookili variety is good for this
  • Salt
  • Red chili powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Kasooti methi – 1 tsp
  • Tamarind paste – 1/2 tsp


  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Jeera – 1/2 tsp
  • Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
  • Ghee – 1 tsp

Heat the ghee and add tempering ingredients. Add the ripe mango, red chili powder, kasooti methi and tamarind paste and 1 cup water. Cook, covered for 4-5 minutes.

Add the cooked dal and salt and cook for 3 minutes more.

Serve with rice and ghee – it is an unusually lovely combination of sweet and sour tastes.

Asma by any other name (even the monitor-inflicted asthma) was just as sweet!