Cooking a meal can often be the last thing you feel like doing after work. Perversely, it can also be precisely the calming task needed to help nourish both the body and mind at the end of a long day. The trick, according to chef Rupal Bhatikar, is to make it enjoyable rather than a chore.
Rupal knows this innately. Born in India and later based in Dubai, Rupal worked in marketing for multinational corporations, while still showcasing her cooking chops thanks to an inspiring recipe-based blog. After relocating to Melbourne with her Aussie partner three years ago, Rupal went to culinary school and emerged as a full-time chef. Now her recipes – many drawn from her home in Goa – are a welcome presence on Instagram and beyond.
“Everyone should develop certain quick meals they can put together,” says Rupal. “That way you’re not spending too many hours in the kitchen. After a long day of work, it’s important to eat well and know what’s going inside your meal.”
Rupal has a particular go-to in such situations – a raw green mango dal that transports her back to her childhood in Goa, where she says mangoes “take over your life” when in season.
She says dal is great for making in big batches, whether to feed a family or be portioned out for later. You can also use different lentils or spices to change the flavour dramatically.
Rupal’s raw green mango dal balances sourness, sweetness and warming spice. Made from scratch, it’s healthy and wholesome. Just remember to soak the lentils first to make them easier to digest – it will also make them creamier (and they’ll cook more quickly).
The recipe is best served with steamed basmati rice, a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt and a side of vegetables or a simple salad. There’s very little actual cooking time involved. You could even make the dish and spend the final required 15-20 minutes resting time following suite in a warm bath laced with calming EpZen magnesium bath crystals for your troubles.
“You have a nice meal to eat, and it nourishes you,” says Rupal. “Who wouldn’t want to have something warm and comforting at the end of the day?”
Here’s how to make Rupal Bhatikar’s raw green mango dal at home.
Raw green mango dal
Preparation/cooking time: 60 minutes (including soaking and resting)
1 cup yellow split lentilstoor/arhar dal
1/4 cup raw green mango, peeled and chopped bite-sized (available frozen at most Asian supermarkets)
1/2 small tomato, chopped
1½ tsp jaggery, grated or powdered (or use rapadura or brown sugar)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tbsp ghee (use neutral-tasting oil if vegan)
1/4 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 whole red dry chillies
8–10 curry leaves
1/4 tsp asafoetida (available at most health food stores, but can use a pinch of garlic in its place)
coriander leaves to garnish
salt to taste
Wash the toor dal in a colander until the water runs clear. Soak covered in water for at least 30 minutes (or up to 1 hour) in the same pot you’ll cook them in. Once soaked, add salt and turmeric powder to the lentils and water. Bring the pot to a boil over a medium flame. Skim out any foamy impurities. Once the lentils have come to a boil, add the chopped mango. Lower the flame to a simmer and cook until the lentils and mango are tender. Add chilli powder, tomatoes and jaggery. Taste and balance the flavours; you want to taste a lingering tangy sweetness. In a small fry pan, heat the ghee or oil. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and chillies and let them bloom and splutter over a low flame. Add asafoetida (heeng) curry leaves and quickly pour this into the dal. Mix through and remove from heat. Let rest for 15–20 minutes. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with steamed basmati rice, a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt and a side of vegetables or a simple salad.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with EpZen. EpZen’s vegan-friendly, paraben-free products are available in four blends; Relax, Soothe, Sleep and Soothe Feet, helping you to create micro-moments of mindfulness throughout the day. EpZen products are personal care products and are not food grade.