mostly about food and cooking, but also the stories about the Bread and the Butterflies!

Archive for the ‘Chutneys’ Category

Peanut Sambal

In Chutneys, Dips and Spreads, on the side, Tea Party, Under 30 min! on August 25, 2011 at 10:20 am

peanut sambal

[As is usual, this post has been a few days in writing…]

I hope you are having a great feast today on our beloved Krishna’s day of birth.  Today we celebrate a God whose myth recognizes and cherishes much in our very flawed human lives: the innocence of childhood, a mother’s love, the exuberance of youth, trusted friendships, the power of love, and duty above all.  He has been the inspiration for artists, musicians, and writers through ancient time and present.  His love of food, particularly fresh churned butter, laddoo, and of course, Sudama’s sattu makes him a legendary foodie as well.  While today your feast may consist only of vegetarian, grain-free dishes, tomorrow you might want to have a different party.

On most weekend evenings TH and I sit ourselves down with the tipple of choice and munchies such as these on the side.  There is usually a dip: fresh-made tomato salsa or tzatziki.  On Sunday, when the maid gets her day off , I celebrate my freedom from having to supervise her.  I know – you can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them.  In any case, I am planning to get the maid out of my kitchen for good.  She has been sick and out of circulation for the last three months and I have honestly felt more in charge of my time since I don’t need to disrupt my time in the office to plan her work!  It is so much more efficient when I plan for myself.

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Dried Fish!

In Chutneys, on the side, south Indian, Under 30 min! on July 15, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Kashmiris have hogaad, (ho- from hoakh – dry, and gaad – fish), tiny dried fish that are cooked with vegetable or greens to up the nutrient quotient, or simply fried in oil to a crisp and served on the side. My mother would add tiny amounts of hogaad to the bags of other foodstuff we would carry back to Delhi from what used to be annual summer visits to Srinagar. The hogaad was out of pure nostalgia I am sure. To my credit, I did taste it every time she cooked some. I wonder how I overcame the stink.

dried fish in Munnar

A year ago browsing around in the market in Munnar I saw piles and piles of all kind of dried fish and other sea creatures. I was struck by the same nostalgia. So I ended up buying a 100 grams of medium-sized dried fish. As you can tell, I cannot tell my fish. I only know big, small, medium or tiny. I gave some to my mother to cook, who is now a vegetarian. She cooked it out of love (and nostalgia) for me and my dad. My dad does not care for hogaad; never did. I tasted some of it and couldn’t figure out why we bother. I have been looking at my portion of dried fish in the jar…for awhile.

nasi goreng

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Curry (leaf) Powder

In Chutneys, south Indian, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on December 5, 2009 at 12:27 am

curryleaf podi

We are well into winter now here in Delhi. Autumn is past; the tiny leaves of Gulmohur have finally done their main shedding. It’s not bare, it never is, but we don’t sweep up a pile of leaves by the gate anymore. This is also the time when a lot of us feel the need to prune some of the evergreens so that there may be just a little more sun on the ground. My curry leaf tree does tend to shade my lime and keeps it from bearing a winter crop. It was also growing a bit too tall with hardly any low handy branches for a quick tempering. So, I had my gardener lop off a few branches last month.

It would have been a shame to have that huge pile of curry leaves go waste. Curry leaf podi has been on my list for a long time. I gathered a bunch of fresh leaves this time, like all the times before, to make into some spicy podi.  I was finally going to have curry powder in my kitchen! Actually, that is not true. I did get myself some of that authentic curry powder on my last visit to the US. My brother-in-law was very kind to give me a big bottle of it which I have used to spice many mixed vegetable stir fries; perfect when I want that exotic twist 🙂 to my everyday Indian.

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Caronde he Caronde

In Bread, Chutneys, From the Garden, Fruit, Low Fat, on the side, Preserves, Punjab, Tea Party, Under 30 min!, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 19, 2008 at 12:25 am

caronde ki chutney

Please don’t mention Caronda* for some time…it is in every jar I had spare!  There is no room for any more pickles or preserves…As I mentioned last time, I made some caronda chutney a week ago, to use up part of my Dad’d harvest from a bush I planted about ten years ago in the front yard of their house.  I used the idea of a sweet-tangy Indian chutney such as saunth (sweet and sour tamarind chutney) or a mango chutney made with unripe mangoes.  The effort was much appreciated. Since it was a trial batch I got just enough to fill two tiny jars that I sent off to my mum and sister.  The next batch was a repeat of the recipe and this time the effort yielded a big jar – plenty, I thought.

There were still some carondas left which then went into a pickle, pits and all, along with some unripe mango, lotus root, and green chillies. I keep that stoneware jar in the sun, what little there is of it at this time, bring it in every evening, and give it a good stir.  It is looking good.

So far so good.  My mum liked the relish a lot.  She doesn’t eat too much pickle because of the high salt content.  I told her that pitting the fruit was a pain in the rear.  She pitted about a kilo with the help of her maid and presented it to me.  I had thought more like: ok, here’s a recipe you might like to try… But I came home and made my third batch of caronda chutney.  This batch had fewer ingredients – I had already used up my dates; no gur – I couldn’t be bothered; less sugar – I had used up a lot of sugar in the past couple of weeks between the caronda relish and the mango jam, and was making statements with big exclamatory marks regarding the sugar content of the chutney.  The fruit for this batch had ripened further on the plant, was a deeper pink, and there was a subtle change in texture too.  What a pretty pink it turned in the pan!  And the texture – why, it reminded me of sour cherries in syrup!  The slight crispness as you bite into one was so similar!  That made me Google for recipes using sour cherries and I found a bunch that hold promise for next year!  I make no promises…but there might even be Caronda Liqueur on these pages one day!

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The Mangoes are Sour

In Chutneys, Dips and Spreads, From the Garden, Low Fat, on the side, Preserves, Tea Party, Under 30 min!, Vegetarian on May 20, 2008 at 8:29 pm

chopped mango

A big chunk of my readers live outside India. And all of them will appreciate how I have tried not to rub salt on their mangoes wounds this year. There has been no talk of mangoes, whatsoever, on this blog so far this year; no debate on which mango is the King, or that mango is King.

But ’tis the season and you all have access to reasonably good unripe sour mangoes. Sour mangoes are loved all over Asia, cooked with dal, with vegetables (it is the perfect foil for bittergourd), or enjoyed as a relish such as Pel’s nam prik wan kap mamuang khiew. And when you don’t want to fuss, just slice them up, dip in salt, and taste nirvana. Not as much fun today when my teeth sour much too quick, but a favourite summer activity when we were kids. Read the rest of this entry »

Axe Soup aka Bottle Gourd Peel Chutney

In Chutneys, Maharashtrian, on the side, Under 30 min!, Vegetables on June 25, 2007 at 1:02 am

doodhi peel chutney
Kulhadi ka dalia is the Hindi translation of the Russian folktale Axe Soup that I read many summers ago. It is a version of Stonesoup, and a story that I find similar to this bottle gourd peel chutney.

You’ve all probably heard some version of the story in your childhood. In Stonesoup the message is more about the pleasure of sharing and the good that comes from cooperation. The Axe Soup carries a subtle lesson about human management – how to use the inherent greed in fellow humans, of wanting to get something out of nothing, to get out of others more than they are willing to give.

But little do we expect to ever come face to face with legends outside of books of tales.

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Mint and Walnut Chutney

In Chutneys, Dips and Spreads, Kashmiri, Low Fat, Under 30 min! on April 17, 2007 at 9:15 pm

mustard fields
Mustard fields, Punjab

Spring arrives early in the Northern Plains of India. The Hindu calendar marks Basant Panchami as the first day of spring. Basant coincides with blooming mustard fields, and it is from these perhaps, that the colour yellow has come to symbolize spring to us. If you have ever seen a mustard field in spring you will know the magic I am talking about. Reading about spring and cherry blossoms on other blogs also reminded me of Kashmir. Blossoms of the cherry and the almond trees herald the arrival of spring in the valley.


If anyone likes warmer weather it is my potted mint. After looking sad all winter it perks up at the sight of spring. As the bright green leaves begin to grow they find their way into a lot of things in my kitchen – omelettes and scrambled eggs, cold soups and salads, refreshing jal jeera, and into many a chutney. All of you probably have your favourite recipe for mint chutney. As do I.

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Tomato Chutney

In Chutneys, Dips and Spreads, Low Fat, on the side, Preserves, Tea Party, Under 30 min!, Vegetables on March 30, 2007 at 10:38 pm

tomato chutney

Tomayto-tomahto, tamahtar-timahtar. What a vegetable! Yes, yes, I know, technically it is a fruit, a berry. And a berry good one it is 🙂 . So good that even Kashmiris have begun to include it into their traditional recipes, tamatar-baingan being among my Dad’s favourites. But there’s no Kashmiri recipe today. Let’s do another one for ‘the left-side’, the side reserved on the Maharashtrian thali for pickles, relishes, and chutneys.

There is this tomato chutney I make that uses just a few ingredients. I watched Sanjeev Kapoor make it many years ago on his very popular show Khaana Khazaana. I didn’t note down the recipe but since the ingredient list was short I was able to make a very decent chutney when I tried it soon after. I have made it many times since but always going by ‘feel’ as most of us who have been cooking for a considerable time tend to do. When you do that, it becomes hard to write recipes down. This blog is becoming a repository where I must commit to measurable units. Already, I check here for a couple of my own recipes! So, today I measured as I went about adding the ingredients.

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Relishing the Radish

In Chutneys, Kashmiri, Low Fat, on the side, Traditions and Customs, Under 30 min!, Vegetables on March 27, 2007 at 9:27 pm

mujj chatin

Here is another Kashmiri vegetarian recipe. It is special because it is one of the few accompanying dishes that make up Kashmiri cuisine. The rest of India has a mind boggling variety of things to be ‘served on the left side’ of the thali. Let me explain this. There is a specific sequence to serving food in Maharashtra. You start with a bit of salt on the left side. This is the side reserved for all accompaniments: chutneys, pickles, wedges of lemon, koshimbirs (salads) or raitas. Bhajjis (pakoras), if part of the meal, will also find room here. Next will be a katori of daal, and then to the right of the thali is the main subzi. Rice and roti are towards the lower centre of the thali. The sweet, somewhere in the middle, is always served along with the meal. Even for everyday meals you will have something served on the left, even if just a pickle, though chutneys are served frequently. It would sadden my MIL to serve just a pickle ‘daavi kade‘ (on the left side!).

I have no idea why the Northern most state of our country is so lacking in this category. Maharashtra, Gujarat and all the Southern states lay as much emphasis on this ‘side’ to introduce a complexity of texture and flavour into their cuisine. It might have something to do with Kashmiris being obsessed with their meat or the harsh climate making cooking harder with women concentrating on getting the meat cooked in time for the unusually early meal times. Lunch, in most houses, would be ready and served before 10:00 in the morning. Everyone ate and went to work or school. Where was the time to sit and pound different things together in a pestle and mortar? The plentiful fresh fruits and vegetables such as radishes and cucumbers are perfect for snacking and getting the crunch that might have been missed at meal time.

Though there are just a few chutneys and raitas but these are much loved and used over and over. One loved vegetable is mooli (daikon radish). It is cooked with fish or nadur (lotus stem) to lip-smacking results. It is also the vegetable of choice for making our most popular raita – mujj chatin. For some reason it is called a chutney. Grated mooli added to thick salted dahi with chopped green chillies mixed in. Red chilli powder and a pinch of shah zeera (black cumin) is totally optional. This is the only Kashmiri dish in which I will use a garnish of coriander leaves. I love coriander, but it is not traditional to Kashmiri cuisine.

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Crispy Cabbage Pakoras

In Chutneys, Dips and Spreads, Maharashtrian, on the side, Tea Party, Under 30 min!, Vegetables on December 31, 2006 at 2:14 pm

Cabbage Pakoras

Everyone likes fried food. And all of us have our variations of batter-fried vegetables. Sometimes, even fruit. Sometime back, Melissa wrote in praise of pakoras on her blog. And I have been wanting to blog about these pakoras since.

I am not sure how many of you have made cabbage pakoras but these are amongst my favourite, second only to pyaaz bhajjies (onion pakoras).

Spicy Onion Rings at the K State Union cafeteria would hit the spot whenever I was homesick for pakoras, and definitely not in the mood for a sugar-kick. I have a very sweet tooth, but it was salt I really missed as a Grad student in the US. Giant muffins, mammoth cookies everywhere, but only fries to satiate the salt cravings. Like most Indians, I prefer a spicy savory snack with the mid-morning or evening cuppa. The sweet may follow; but first, the salt and the spice. It is to this hall of fame that the now well-known samosa also belongs.

Growing up, I never had cabbage in a pakora. My mum was quite innovative with the vegetables she batter fried – eggplant, tomatoes, cauliflower, spinach leaves, in additional to the usual suspects – potatoes and onions. And then one day I saw my MIL shred some cabbage leaves, throw them into the spiced besan batter along with a spoonful of sesame seeds and some left-over rice as well, to make the most delicious of pakoras. These would invariably accompany an elaborate traditional meal showcasing pooran-poli, the delicious stuffed sweet rotis, that are a Maharashtrian delicacy.

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