Saturday, February 2, 2013

Brahmani Ambat Varan (Tangy Dal)

Time flies! The little sister in law who was always excitedly helping me with my cooking experiments is living on her own away from home. Now she has requested me to put up some simple recipes for her on my blog so she and her friends can have some fun cooking them! So the next few posts are a few of her favorite things that I will be sharing with all of you.

One of the simplest things I know she likes is this daal I make very regularly at home. Whenever she comes down to spend time with us or when we visit my in-laws back in India, it is imperative that I make this daal in large quantities. She will then devour it like she was not fed for weeks! 

Every Maharashtrian family has their version of 'Ambat Varan'. This is my mom's version.
To give you a background of this daal, 'Ambat Varan' is a very simple daal to make. I have grown up with this recipe as it was a regular at my home when we were kids. The tamarind, green chillies and the fenugreek seeds gives this daal it's unique flavor. 
The goda masala/kala masala used is a very typical Maharashtrian addition in this dish. Very few Indian stores carry this spice mix with them. If you don't find it anywhere, it is time to make some Maharashtrian friends!

Now let us get to the recipe..

Level: Easy
Serves: 4 people
Source: Aai

3/4 cup toor dal
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
3/4 tsp tamarind pulp 
1 tblsp jaggery
3/4 tblsp goda masala/kala masala
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/8 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/8 tsp fenugreek seeds
4 curry leaves
2 green chillies, finely chopped
Water as required
2 tsp oil
Salt to taste
Coriander to decorate
1 tsp ghee/clarified butter (optional)

Step 1 - Soak toor dal for 15-30 mins in 1.5 cups of water. Add salt and turmeric powder to the soaked dal. Stir will a spoon and pressure cook this daal for 3 whistles or till it is completed cooked.

Step 2 - Once the pressure is released take out the daal from the pressure pan and while the daal is still warm, add the tamarind pulp, jaggery and goda masala. Mix well. Taste this daal. At this point the daal should taste of the goda masala and the tamarind. Do not worry if it tastes of raw spices. We are going to boil this daal till all the raw flavors disappear. Keep aside.

Step 3 - Heat oil in a large pot. Add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add the asafoetida and cumin seeds. Stir for a few seconds till the cumin changes it's color to dark brown. Add the curry leaves and fenugreek seeds. Immediately add in the green chillies and saute till they wilt down.

Step 4 - Add in the daal from Step 2 into the oil. Be careful as it will splatter all over. Add water till the daal reaches the consistency you desire. Cover the pot and let the daal boil for 10 - 12 mins. Keep stirring occasionally. Adjust the salt content and also check for the flavors. You might need to adjust the tang (tamarind) or the sweetness (jaggery) as per your liking.

Decorate it with coriander and spoon in a little ghee if you like. Serve piping hot with some steamed rice.
My mom and I have a weird way of enjoying Ambat Varan. We take the daal in a large bowl. Tear off some hot chapatis and start adding it to the daal till it thickens up and then eat it with a spoon like porridge. That is our little randomness which we enjoy when both of us are alone at home and need to spend most of our time catching up on gossips!

Hope you enjoy making this simple Ambat Varan.

Tamarind can be exchanged for kokum in this preparation too. If you cannot find both you could squeeze some lime into the daal just before serving to take care of the tangy flavor.

Substituting sugar instead of jaggery really spoils the flavor of this daal. So I do not recommend it.

Leftover Varan makes for a great Ambat Varan recipe.


  1. We call this good ol' Amti. Amti-Bhaat was a must at our dining table, growing up.
    My Mother makes this Bijapuri Goda masala, alternativel we use Bedekar Goda masala.
    We make it with Tamarind-jaggery too, but many use just kokum, I believe. Brought back so many memories of childhood, this post! Thanks.

    1. I use a store bought goda masala. But my store is in Mumbai. Is the Bijapuri goda masala different from the regular mix we get in the shops?

  2. I make it exactly the same way (I add curry leaves though) but we call it chinch-goolachi amti. Soul food it certainly is! And I too enjoy soaking pieces of poli and eating with a spoon - I nicknnamed it amti-policha upma :) I HAVE TO make some for dinner tonight!


    1. I add curry leaves too. They taste great in the tadka. I thought me and my mom were the only weird people who soaked poli in the amti...:)

  3. :-) Thanks shamu for putting this up... totally my fav!! il def try it out for my friends..

  4. Its like you read my mind! You appear to
    know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but
    instead of that, this is excellent blog.

    A fantastic read. I will definitely be back.

    Feel free to surf to my page elite esig reviews

  5. I was just searching for Ambat god varan recipe. I am expecting and crave for this alot. When I was a kid my mom used to soak poli in hot varan and used to add lots of ghee. I still love it.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Thanks for this recipe. Will try it. Have you tried the CKP ambat varan? Tastes yummy too! :) Slightly different ingredients - but yes same amabt-goad taste... using amsul and gul. A favorite in my family.

    1. Would love to know how u make ur CKP ambat varan. :) Thanks for stopping by.