Post 24: Chutney

One thing I have realized since the time I have been blogging is that I would not make a good food blogger. The reason is simple. I forget to take pictures while cooking and whenever I go dining else where, I cannot resist the urge to jump on the food before taking pretty pictures of presentation. Most of the recipes that have been handed down from my mother do not come with standard measurements and have to be based on what you see and taste while cooking. so why another food post? – Blogging about food has been a good way to chronicle some of the recipes that I have learnt.

The word ‘Chutney’ or ‘chutnee’ (pronounced CHətnē ) refers to a condiment made of fruits or vegetables, usually savoury with some tangy flavours thrown in. The chutney is very often ground to a paste like consistency (a barring a few recipes that are chunky in texture). The chutney is usually tangier or spicier than the food itself since it is supposed to enhance the favours of plain dishes. Here are two of the chutney’s I have learnt from my mother-in-law as they happen to be my husband’s favourite condiments to go with idli’s or dosa. Whoever said ” the way to a man’s heart is through the stomach”, knew what she was talking about.

Tomato chutney

You’ll need:

Shallots- a handful

Green chillies- to taste

Tomatoes- 2 medium sized, diced

Garlic -6-7 cloves

Mustard seed- 1/2 tsp.

Curry leaves

oil

salt to taste

Grind together the garlic cloves, green chillies, tomatoes and chopped shallots or mini onions (you can use onions if you want but choose the one that is not sweet) to a fine paste. Heat oil. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add the tomato-garlic paste, salt and let it cook till the chutney thickens to a desired consistency.photo 1-1

You would know the taste is right when you can taste the tang from the tomatoes and a slight flavour of garlic. This chutney serves as a good marinade for chicken and will remain in the fridge for upto a week. I often use it as a base for curries when I am slightly pressed for time.

Ridge Gourd Chutney:

Ridge gourd or turai or beerakai is a common vegetable in India. You might know it as Luffa. yes , Luffa…the bathing loofah is made of this vegetable once dried. You may find different regional variations of the ridge-gourd chutney online but the recipe I have learnt only uses the outer skin of the vegetable.

ridge+gourd

Image via.
You’ll need:

One medium sized ridgegourd- peel the skin(or the first few millimetres with a paring knife)

Garlic cloves-5-6

green chillies,

salt to taste

mustard seeds and urad daal – 1/2 tsp.

tamarind- 2 marble sized (Soak in water and extract the pulp)

Curry leavesphoto 2-1Heat Oil. Add mustard seeds, urad daal and curry leaves followed by the ridge gourd skins, green chillies and garlic. Cook till the skins start to soften. Add salt and cook some more.

Let it cool and grind with the tamarind pulp. add the tamarind pulp in small portions , taste often to check that the sourness does not overpower the flavour. A good chutney would have a balance of spicy and tangy.

The remaining vegetable can be cut into chunks and used in sambhar or mixed vegetable preparations.

Phir Milenge!!

Apples of the Earth

My French word of the day is “Pomme de terre” or Potato in simple English. Translated it means Apples of the earth and I think that name is totally appropriate.

Every culture in the world has its own potato variation and I like potatoes of all shapes and sizes..baked, fried, boiled, mashed you name it. Back home in India, potatoes are cooked with any and every vegetable possible- spinach, green beans, peas, green bell peppers to name a few and all kinds of meat. This weekend I celebrated potatoes and made two different basic versions that were cooked in my home.

Recipe-1 Fried Potatoes.

Chop the Potatoes into small chunks. The thicker the chunks, the longer they will take to cook.

Add Cumin seeds to hot oil. Let splatter. Splattering is what infuses the flavor of the seed into the oil and it is important that the oil is hot enough. My mom says she can taste “raw oil” if you add the cumin or mustard seeds in cooler oil that does not splatter but I cannot tell the difference to be honest.

Add chopped potatoes. Let them cook in oil for a minute or two.

Add turmeric and salt to your liking at this point.

Potatoes will cook to be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, much like french fries. Remember to keep a steady flame throughout the cooking process, if you put it on sim the potatoes will become soggy.

10 seconds before removing the potatoes , add red chilli flakes to your liking.

fried potatoes can be served with boiled rice and some lentil curry or mor-curry (yogurt-curry)

Recipe-2 Puné Potatoes

I call them Puné potatoes because I had this style of potatoes in a place called Puné. I don’t know the real name for this recipe.

Boil the Potatoes till soft, peel and cut into eighths. Basically the potatoes are cooked and all that remains is to season them.

To one table spoon oil add Mustard seeds, Green chillies- split lengthwise and curry leaves.

Add turmeric and salt to the hot oil and immediately add Boiled potatoes. Turmeric can burn in oil and give a bitter taste so be very quick.

Mix it up and smash the potatoes as you do but don’t fully mash them !. Turn off the heat. 10 mins to boil and 5 minutes on the cook-top and delicious potatoes are ready to serve. I usually serve these with poori – a type of fried bread or roti (flat bread)

Tip – Potatoes absorb salt and you might need to add more salt as compared to other vegetables

Trust me by simply switching two ingredients – cumin seeds and red chilly flakes with mustard seeds and green chillies- and two cooking methods – frying v/s boiling –  you would get two different flavors for your potatoes.

Phir Milenge!!