Monday, October 1, 2012

Chutneys and Condiments

Growing up, my house was always buzzing with guests and visitors. Like any other typical Indian family, we were used to unannounced guests dropping in for chai or staying over for dinner after mom or grandma insisted. I remember my dad inviting his friends over for dinner on many occasions with barely any warning. There was hardly any time to come up with a fancy menu. But the women of the house never worried or complained, for they were always armed with an abundant supply of condiments. All sorts of pickles, chutneys, papads and other mouthwatering stuff! Think about it, these condiments are served in the smallest quantity on a plate, and yet add the most pizzazz to a meal. The simplest potato sabji served with piquant mango pickle, some sweet lemon pickle on top of upma, green chutney spread on a sandwich, curry leaves chutney sprinkled on a roti, or an assortment of papads cumbled with warm khichadi - these condiments make up for any flavors your plate may be lacking.

When I want a quick and easy meal, I rely on fresh chutneys or metkut (Maharashtrian style poodi chutney) to spruce up some rice and yogurt. Utterly satisfying and comforting. I made a big batch of green/raw mango chutney yesterday (the only upside to not getting alphonso is having access to Mexican mangoes most of the year). Green mango chutney is quite unique as it is complete with all the basic tastes our taste buds recognize - sourness, saltiness, sweetness, bitterness and - for all the Indianness in me - spiciness! It's one of the easiest condiments to make and boy, does it pack flavor! My mom used to add a little bit of grated onion to make this chutney extra strong, but you can't store it for long since onion starts smelling right away. Without it, the chutney lasts for 2 weeks or more. I love this chutney with roti, rice or even bread. It'll surely tickle your taste buds.

Green Mango Chutney/ Kairichi Chutney

2 Green Mangoes
1 Tablespoon grated jaggery
1 Teaspoon red chili powder
1 Teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 Teaspoon fenugreek/methi seeds powder
1/2 Teaspoon asafoetida powder
1 Tablespoon oil
Salt to taste

  • Pick firm, raw mangoes for this chutney. Peel and grate mangoes. 
  • Add jaggery and red chili powder. The exact amount of jaggery and chili powder will depend on the sourness of the mango and your preference. So make adjustments as needed. 
  • Heat oil in a kadhai, add mustard seeds and let them splutter. 
  • Turn off the heat, add asafoetida and fenugreek seeds powder (so they don't burn) and add this tempering to the grated mangoes. You want asafoetida to impart its strong pungent fragrance. 
  • Add salt to taste, mix well and let the chutney sit for about an hour so all the flavors penetrate the mango. 

There - complete with all the flavors, this chatpati chutney will make any meal special!

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