Ambat Varan: A Maharashtrian Dal-Based Delicacy For The Summer
Image Credit: Freepik

Dal is one of the hallmarks of Indian cuisine, with every culture and region of the country boasting its own unique variation of this dish. From the succulent Mughlai dal makhani to the delectable Gujarati dal dhokli, Indians just can’t seem to get enough of this lentils-based specialty! This article will explore a unique regional variation of dal known as “ambat varan.” A Maharashtrian delicacy, ambat varan typically boasts a sweet, spicy, and tangy flavour. Like other dals, it can be relished by itself; however, it is usually enjoyed with rice or a flavourful chutney.

What imbues ambat varan with added importance is its significance to the Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP) community. Believed to have descended from an ancient Kshatriya king, Chandrasen, CKPs are an ethnic community that are dispersed throughout the country, predominantly along the North-Konkan coast. The dish ambat varan is believed to be the creation of the Maharashtrian sect of CKPs. This dish holds great sentimental value for CKP families as every household in the community is thought to have its unique recipe of this beloved dish. While some CKP families use tamarind as the hero ingredient, others use kokum.

Another factor that sets ambat varan apart from regular dals is its use of a thick masala paste known as “vatan.” The traditional CKP ambat varan vatan is made by blending coconuts, peppercorns, turmeric powder, and kokum with salt and water. Together, these ingredients combine to form an effusive paste that is bursting with depth and flavour. This vatan adds the spice element to ambat varan. The dish is usually relished with a vibrant green coriander-coconut chutney, the standout ingredient of which is kairi or unripe mango.

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The heavy use of ingredients, such as coconut and kokum make ambat varan an ideal summer food. Both these ingredients are known to have cooling qualities, therefore, consuming them helps keep one cool and hydrated in the simmering summer heat. The striking yellow and green colour of the dal and the chutney are also a nod to the spring and summer seasons, when nature is in full bloom and there is an abundance of greenery. The use of mango in the chutney is also reflective of the spring/summer when ripe mangoes are in season.

Image Credits: Freepik

Chef Chinu Vaze of the CKP community recently took to her Instagram page to share an authentic age-old ambat varan recipe that has been in her family for generations. You can view the entire recipe video below. The recipe has also been summarised after the video for your quick reference.


½ cup tur dal

3 cups water

4 tablespoons freshly grated coconut (for the vatan)

20 pieces whole peppercorns (for the vatan)

¼ cup water (for the vatan)

½ tablespoon salt (for the vatan)

¼ tablespoon turmeric (for the vatan)

3 pieces kokum (for the vatan)

1 tablespoon ghee (for the tadka)

4 garlic cloves with skin (for the tadka)


Step 1: Begin by making the vatan mixture. Mix the vatan ingredients with some of the cooked dal and keep the mixture aside.

Step 2: Introduce 3 cups of water to the remainder of the cooked dal and blend thoroughly.

Step 3: Add kokum, salt, and turmeric to the dal-water mixture and blend thoroughly.

Step 4: Add the vatan paste to the dal-water-turmeric mixture and blend thoroughly. Set the concoction to cook one more time.

Step 5: For the tadka, warm the ghee and the 4 crushed garlic cloves.

Step 6: Finish off the ambat varan dish by infusing the tadka with the vatan mix. Savour your homemade ambat varan with rice or a rich kairi chutney.