Ambti (Lentil soup, Tur Dal)

Ambti is a stable in the Marathi household and is made with tur dal. My mother made delicious ambti. Even though I have made it several times with her standing by my side I have never been able to make it as good as hers.

Ambti literally means a dish to which something sour has been added. The preferred sour ingredient in Maharashtra is the dried kokum fruit peel also called amsul (sol). In its absence tamarind can be used. I did not have fresh amsul so I used tamarind.

As a child I remember my mother used to buy amsul only from some vendors in the interior of Goa. She did not buy it in the town we lived. She had to have fresh amsul and that according to her was not available in town.

You will need
1 cup turdal
1 Serrano pepper, deseeded and minced
1 tsp. powdered roasted coriander and cumin seeds
1 tbsp. tamarind extract
1 tsp. Agave Nectar
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1/4 tsp. asafoetida
4-5 curry leaves (optional)
1 tbsp. olive oil

Pressure cook the turdal with twice the quantity of water. Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When they crackle add the pepper, turmeric powder and asafoetida. Add the curry leaves and the cooked turdal. Bring it to a boil. Add the tamarind extract, Agave nectar. Season with salt. Let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and serve hot.