The Soothing Cool Flavors Of Chutneys

The Indian counterpart of the western sauce, the chutney takes many forms. It is sweet, sour, cold or hot, provides soothing cool flavors or can set the palate on fire.
Chutneys bring to mind hot Indian summers, the accompaniments of savories from the land of camels, elephants and bejeweled Maharajas. But it is an interesting fact that the humble chutney can be made to suit tastes and cuisines of all kinds.

Here are some interesting recipes of chutneys, not from restaurants in Britain who serve what the British like to eat, but from the homeland of the chutney, India.

Mango Chutney

Come summer and hot winds blow across almost the entire Asian subcontinent, India gets its fair share too. This is the season for the king of fruits, the mango. Though there is great eagerness in the air for the large number of laden mango trees to turn out ripe yellow, red or shaded fruit of almost infinite number of varieties across the country, everyone also looks forward to the myriad uses the mango can be put to, in terms of tasty foods. The chutney is one such dish, made in all parts of India, each better than the other.
To make this lip smacking chutney you need :

250 grams unripe mangoes (green mango)
3 tbsp sugar or ½ cup jaggery, cut into small pieces.
½ tsp shredded ginger
3 whole red chilies
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp oil (vegetable oil, preferably).
1 tsp salt

Wash and peel the mangoes. Take care to cut away the top, where the stalk grows, and clean the area well. Do not remove the seed. Cut into long slices. In a pan, heat the oil. Then put in the mustard seeds and red chilies. When the seeds start to splutter, put in the mango slices. Sprinkle the salt and mix in everything. Cover and let it cook till the mangoes are semi soft. Then add the sugar and stir around till it forms syrup with the juices of the mango itself. Do not add outside water. Stir in the shredded ginger, and cook on low flame for another five minutes, taking care the syrup does not burn. In case you are using jaggery, add the jaggery and a teaspoonful of water to melt it. Then coat well over the mangoes. Turn out into a bowl and let stand. The mangoes will gradually turn translucent and that is the time to eat the chutney. It goes wonderfully well with fried savories.

Green Chutney

This is a mixture of fresh, flavors of green herbs like mint and coriander. It is almost a regular accompaniment in most Indian meals, since it provides the much-needed greens in the food. Even if we ignore the nutritive qualities, the green chutney is very tasty.
To make the Indian Green chutney you need:

50 grams of fresh coriander
50 grams fresh mint leaves
3 large cloves of garlic
1 small onion, shredded
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp salt
2 fresh green chilies
2 tbsp yogurt

Carefully wash the leaves and chop them fine. Then put all the ingredients, except yogurt in the blender and blend to fine paste. Whisk in the yogurt to this mixture. The chutney is ready. It is a great accompaniment for kebabs, roast meats and also fried savories like cutlets and samosas. It can also be a great, spicy dip for papads.

Tamarind Chutney

This piquant chutney made with ripe tamarind pulp is also a side dish with many Indian delicacies. Tastes great with yogurt based dishes like dahi-vada, a lentil dumpling in yogurt. It is also known as South in Northern India and is the usual dip for savory snacks.

You need :
100 grams tamarind pulp
2 cups warm water
1 tsp dry roasted and ground cumin seeds
½ tsp crushed rock salt
2 tbsp sugar or jaggery
½ tsp red chili powder
1 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp chopped dates
Salt to taste

Soak the tamarind pulp in warm water for about half an hour. Then sieve through into a bowl, to collect the tamarind water. Press with a fork or spoon to make sure only the fibers and seeds are left on top and most of the pulp is collected in the bowl. In a pan, pour this tamarind water and heat. Add the spices, salt, dates and the raisins. Keep stirring till the mixture boils. Then add the sweetening - sugar or jaggery. Stir it in, but do not boil or the chutney will start burning at the base. Add a little more water if required, because once it cools, the chutney automatically thickens. Pour out into a small bowl, it can be used hot or cooled.
By Kanika Goswami
Published: 4/30/2005
Bouquets and Brickbats