Being Women

‘Tok Dal’ (Raw Mango Dal) for the Parched Soul

Tok Dal or raw mango dal is a staple diet durimg the summers. Sanchari, the artist presents the recipe with her beautiful illustrations.

I’ve always hated mangoes with a vengeance.

Yes, you read that right. Come summer, when markets of Kolkata would overflow with an abundance of a variety of mangoes, I’d roll my eyes, frustrated at being forced to try mangoes time and again despite being very clear and vocal about my distaste for them. It was the 90s and 2000s. Children’s choices and opinions were not worth much, during those days.

Heartbroken, that her one and only child detests the fruit she loves, my mother would try different ways to get me to understand and emulate her love for this fruit of paradise. She tried making me pickles, she tried mixing mangoes with dudh bhaat, she even tried making me sherbet with mango pulp. But nothing could take away my aversion, not even a little bit.

Until… she introduced me to tok dal one fine summer afternoon. Something told her that I might not hate raw mangoes as much as I hate the ripe, orange ones. Well, she was right, and the rest is history. For the first time, I could eat mangoes without complaining, and would even ask for a second helping of it as chutney, at the end of the meal. Since then, tok dal has been a staple at home, of course, it has become this sweet and sour summer bridge, across which my mango-hating soul meets the rolling eyes of my mango-loving mother.

So, how to make this beautifully delicate tok dal or raw mango dal? Well, here’s what you will need.


  • ½ cup red lentils or masoor dal washed thoroughly to be boiled
  • 1 big to medium-sized raw mango, peeled, and then sliced into thin strips to be boiled along with the dal
  • Black mustard seeds
  • Turmeric powder
  • 2-3 pieces of dried red chillies
  • Mustard oil
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • Water


In a pressure cooker, add the masoor dal, mango slices, turmeric powder, salt, and about 1 ½ cups of water. Let it cook on medium flame till 2 whistles.

In a separate pan or kadhai, heat up a tablespoon of mustard oil.

Temper the hot oil with dried red chillies and mustard seeds.

In a minute or so, pour the boiled dal from the pressure cooker into the pan. Let it cook on a low flame.

Once the dal starts to bubble, add sugar as per your taste to adjust the flavours. You can also add some more water at this stage if you feel the dal looks too thick. I personally like my tok dal to be thin, and a little bit on the sweeter side, so I adjust my water and sugar accordingly.

If you enjoy the sourness that comes from raw mango slices, please take a few slices out from the dal in the pan, crush them into a paste and then add them back. This will enhance the tang of the dal.

Remember, you can adjust the salt, sugar, and water level in this dal, at any time during this process, as long as the dal is hot, and the granules melt seamlessly. I’m an impatient, imperfect cook. So, I always make sure to mention such flexibilities in my recipes so that no step feels too precious and difficult to achieve for careless cooks like me.

Last notes on tok dal

Tok dal tastes best with plain white rice. I often make alu bhaja, begun bhaja or even simple papad bhaja on the side for that wholesome lunch experience during summer afternoons when elaborate meals feel unnecessary. Most of you, probably already know this recipe by heart, it’s often a summer staple in Bengali households. But in case you didn’t know the exact recipe and haven’t tried it out at home yet, now is your chance! I hope my colourful illustrations make you smile as well, I’m an artist and couldn’t resist quickly illustrating this very favourite recipe of mine. While I type it all out, I’m also WhatsApping the illustrations to my mother, on the side. I can bet you money that in a few minutes, Mommy Darling is going to send me one of her many sarcastic quips, to make fun of her mango-hating child, creating art out of a mango recipe, with so much love.


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