The Chutney chronicles- The New Indian Express

The Chutney chronicles- The New Indian Express

  30 Dec 2023

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Blandness has no place in Indian cuisine. That’s precisely why each dish if not already bubbling with flavours, is also accompanied by a ramekin of chutney, a popular condiment that’s relied upon to add that extra oomph to a meal.

From thick to thin, crunchy to smooth, spicy to sweet, chutney’s versatility is unmatched. In the south, it is coconut chutney that reigns supreme. Can you imagine savouring a ‘South Indian’ breakfast without it? There are many versions of coconut chutney, featuring ingredients like red and green chillies, mint, onion, coriander, and garlic.

Long back, this condiment had been made using just chilli and salt. Today, even fish is an ingredient in one of the popular chutneys across several states including Tamil Nadu. 

As you travel across this state, the culinary tapestry unfurls an astonishing array of unique chutneys. Each state, each community, and indeed every household has its own chutney variety, usually handed carefully down through generations. Here, TNIE brings you a delectable mix of chutneys from across the country.

(Inputs from Diya Maria George)

Chutney’s origin
Interestingly, the word chutney comes from the Sanskrit word ‘chatni’, which means to lick.

A tangy fusion 
Major Grey’s Chutney is a renowned sweet and tangy condiment, rich in ingredients like mangoes, raisins, tamarind, and an assortment of spices. It is believed to have been crafted by Major Grey, a British army officer in India, who later introduced the recipe to England. A product of cultural exchange and fusion during the colonial days, Major Grey’s chutney is a popular condiment in the West.

Mango chutney

by Apoorva Nambiar Gujarat

Ingredients
Raw mango/semi-ripe mango: 2
Jaggery: ¼ to ½ cup
Salt: ½ tsp, as per taste
Red chilli powder: ½ to 1 tsp, as per taste
Roasted cumin & coriander powder: ½ tsp

Method
Immerse raw mangoes in water for around 20-30 minutes to lessen their inherent heat. After patting dry, coarsely chop them, keeping the skin on. Incorporate dry spices, salt, and jaggery. Pulse in a blender several times until achieving the preferred consistency. Mix well. Refrigerate it in an airtight container.

Red ant chutney

Chhattisgarh
The kai or chapra chutney, made by crushing red weaver ants, is a staple among the tribal community of Chhattisgarh. In the Mayurbhanj region, these ants are found in abundance. They are collected, dried, and ground into a mix, blending ingredients like tomatoes, coriander, garlic, ginger, chilli, salt and a touch of sugar. The chutney, which comes in a vibrant orange paste, is renowned for its intense heat and spice. “It is hot, but it is absolutely delicious,” celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey remarked after trying the chutney on his visit to India. Since then, this chutney has gained a lot of attention from all corners of the world.

Smoked brinjal chutney

Ingredients
Big round brinjal/aubergine: 1
Red chilli: 7 to 8
Tamarind: ½ tsp, tightly packed
Mustard: ¾ tbsp
Coconut, scraped: 2 to 3 tbsp
Asafoetida: 1/8 tsp
Salt as needed
Coconut oil: 2 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig

Method: Evenly oil the brinjal and then roast it on a skewer over a medium flame, turning it occasionally for a consistent cook. Once its skin is charred and the inside is tender, it’s ready. After cooking, the brinjal should easily detach from the skewer and be left to cool. If roasted correctly, its skin will come off without trouble. Separately, roast mustard seeds and red chillies until the mustard crackles, and then introduce coconut for a fragrant mix. First, blend the chillies and tamarind. Next, add the brinjal, coconut, mustard, and salt, pulsing just enough to break the mustard seeds into chunks. Add water if necessary. Finish by heating oil, adding curry leaves and asafoetida for seasoning.

By Rajeshwari Vijayanand

Doon chetin (Kashmir walnut chutney by Indiediet)

Kashmir
Ingredients

Walnuts: 50g
Hung curd: 1/2 cup
Green chilli: 2 to 3 (de-seeded)
Onion: 1 tbsp (chopped)
Shahi jeera (black cumin): 1/4 tsp
Dried mint leaves: 1 tsp
Coriander leaves: 1 tbsp (chopped)
Lime juice: of 1/2 lime
Kashmiri red chilli powder: 1 tsp
Salt as needed
Garlic: 1 clove

Method
Soak the walnuts in boiling water for about 20 minutes. Then coarse grind the ingredients (except for lime juice and Kashmiri red chilli powder). We can use the pulse grinding option in the mixer/grinder for this. This can be ground to be fine paste also, as per your requirement. Then squeeze the lime to it and sprinkle the Kashmiri red chilli powder. Refrigerate the chutney for longer use.

Akhuni or axone chutney

Nagaland
Ingredients

Fresh green chilli: 5 to 6
Tomato: 1
Fresh ginger: 1”
Axone paste (fermented soyabean) : 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Method
First, roast the chillies over the stove, ensuring they have holes punched in beforehand. Similarly, roast tomatoes, either by the fireplace or on a stove-top grill, turning them for even cooking. After roasting, peel and set aside the tomatoes. Slice the ginger flat for easy mashing. Using a mortar and pestle, begin mashing the chilli with salt. Incorporate the tomatoes, followed by ginger, and finish with axone paste. Ensure all components blend seamlessly into a smooth mixture.

Bhang chutney

Uttarakhand
Bhang ki chutney, which originated in Uttarakhand, is crafted using cannabis seeds. While the plant is often associated with psychedelic effects, the seeds and their resultant chutney lack these properties. Instead, they are nutrient-rich and believed to aid digestion and metabolism.

Thenga chuttaracha chammanthi

Kerala By Indiediet
Ingredients

Fresh coconut: flesh of 1/2 of a coconut
Dried red chilli: 5 to 8
Tamarind: small lime sized
Shallots: 4 to 5
Ginger: 1/2 piece
Curry leaves: a handful
Salt as needed

Method: Roughly chop the fresh coconut. You can even roast it over fire using any holder. Roast till black spots appear on it. Similarly, roast the dried red chilies also. Next, roast the shallots till the colour fades. Using a grinder, coarse grind all the ingredients together without adding any water.  After grinding, transfer it into any container. Add few curry leaves and mix well with your hands. Then mould it into ball shape.

Ulli kaara chutney By Lakshmi Sundar

Tamil Nadu
Ingredients

Oil: 3 tbsp
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Garlic pods: 12
Onion: 3 (cut into thin slices), 
Red chilli powder: 2 tbsp
Kashmiri chilli powder: 1 tsp (optional)
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
Tamarind: gooseberry sized, Salt: 1 tsp
Coriander leaves: 1/4 cup (tightly packed) 

Method: Soak tamarind in 1/3 cup of water for 10 minutes. Heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds and let it crackle. Now add garlic pods and sauté till they turn light brown. Add your sliced onions and sauté till the onions turn translucent. Add the soaked tamarind along with water and mix everything well. Now add chilli powder, turmeric powder and sauté 1-2 minutes. Finally, add coriander leaves, mix well and switch off the flame. Transfer the contents to a plate and allow it to cool completely. Add it to a blender and grind coarsly without adding water.

Khejur chutney

By Madhurima Chowdhari

West Bengal
Ingredients

Tomatoes (roughly chopped): 8 to 10
Dates (chopped): 
1/4 cup, Sugar: ¼ cup
Cashews: 7 to 8 (optional)
Panch phoron*: 1 tbsp
Dried red chilli: 1
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
Salt as needed
Mustard oil: 2 tbsp
*Panch phoron is a mix of cumin seeds, fennel seeds, onion seeds, fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds. 

Method
Warm the oil until it produces smoke, then reduce the heat. Infuse the oil with panch phoron and dried chilli. Add tomatoes, turmeric, and salt when the fenugreek seeds turn brown. Blend well, cover, and let it simmer until the tomatoes are soft; roughly 10-12 minutes. Add hot water, if needed. Once pulpy, incorporate sugar, dates, and cashews, and cook until the chutney thickens. Serve once cooled to room temperature.

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