I remember my grandmother making lentil and cucumber salad when I was little…soaked yellow moong dal (green gram) with grated coconut, lemon juice and tempered with mustard seeds. It isn’t really Indian if it hasn’t been tempered!! I kind of forgot about it altogether until I rediscovered the recipe in the May 2012 issue of BBC Good Food India, and I thought this is the perfect time to make it. This salad is light, refreshing and full of protein, which is an added bonus.
The actual dish, kosambari, is native to Udupi cuisine from Karnataka in Southern India. Similar lentil salads are also eaten in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, where they are called kosumalli and koshimbir. (Yes, I Googled it. A little trivia is always good, even if it comes from a third party.) The recipe in the magazine was the traditional one with lentils and cucumber, but since I Am Recipe Tweaker, I made my lentil salad with raw papaya and mango. Mangoes are so wonderful and I try to put them in everything when the season comes around. And the raw papaya would be firmer than cucumbers so I opted for it.
This salad is extremely easy to make, and the burnt chilli, asafoetida and mustard seeds give it quite a kick :) (Asafoetida is used as a seasoning agent in a lot of vegetarian dishes in India, especially among communities where garlic is not consumed.)
I am also happy to report that I picked out the chilli flakes and fed this to my son who had about 3 tablespoons worth.
SUMMERTIME LENTIL SALAD (Adapted from BBC Good Food India May 2012)
- 1/4 cup moong dal, (green gram or mung) soaked for 1 hour and drained
- 1/4 cup masoor dal, (red lentils) soaked for 1 hour and drained
- 1/4 cup grated coconut (you may use more if you wish)
- 1/4 cup raw papaya, cubed
- 1/4 cup ripe mango, cubed (I used a whole medium-sized mango because I love mangoes, so it was more than 1/4 cup)
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
- Salt to taste
For The Tempering:
- 2 teaspoons oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder
- Put all the ingredients (except for the tempering agents!) together in a large bowl and combine well so that everything is evenly mixed.
- Next, put the tadka (tempered seasoning) together. Heat the oil in a tadka dish or very small wok. When it gets hot, add the mustard seeds and the chilli flakes, and allow the mustard seeds to pop. The chilli flakes will also char a little. Add the asafoetida powder, and pull off heat immediately. Pour the seasoning into the lentil mixture and toss well.
Don’t pink lentils look pretty?
PS- I just realized, this dish is also vegan!! Woohoo.