A chutney for Basant – Tomato & Date Chutney

Aaj rang hai hey mann rang hai ri, Moray Mehboob key Ghar rang hai ri
Sajan milaavra, Sajan milaavra, Sajan milaavra moray aangan ko
Aaj rang hai.

This beautiful Qawwali by “Amir Khusroo” has an hitherto unknown legend behind it. They say that the famous Sufi saint “Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliyah” was terribly distressed by the death of his nephew. In despair, he gave up everything and spent all his time at his nephew’s grave. One of his ardent and most loved disciple ‘Amir Khusroo’ was so pained to see his master in such a state that he set out to find a solution to end his sorrow. While walking around the village, he saw several women wearing bright yellow clothes celebrating Basant (Spring).

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The crazy disciple quickly adorned himself in a yellow dress with a chunni (head scarf) and sang his most famous qawwali “Sakal Basant ayo ri” for his Khwajaji (teacher). Seeing his favourite disciple go to such lengths for him Auliyah cheered up and came out of his dejected state. Hence, every year on the day of “Basant” Sufi shrines of Chisti order around India celebrate this day with a lot of love and prayers for the Khwaja by singing songs sung by the student who loved him the most.

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Auliyah preached love as the eternal way to meet God. He believed that only by surrendering yourself to your beloved without asking any questions will you attain love. And he couldn’t be further from the truth. Only when we completely immerse ourselves in our passions do we achieve great heights. So on this day of “Basant Panchami,”, I surrendered myself to my great love of food by making this delicious “Tomato & Date Chutney”. While Tomatoes were not even around at the time when this story took place, Dates were a much loved and needed source of nourishment. Hence this deliciously lip-smacking Chutney, which I served with various other things. The way the juicy ripe tomatoes do the bidding of the sweet mushy Dates is nothing short of love. Because the end of the day, it is love that makes us do things that we will never do for anything or anyone else. Basant Mubarak ho.

 

Recipe (Cooking time 30 minutes, serves a few greedy people)

6 – 7 juicy big ripe Tomatoes (get the juiciest ones you can)

12 – 15 Medjool Dates

4 Red Chillies

1 ½ tsp Panch Phoron (Bengali 5 spice mix)

1 tbsp Mustard Oil

One tsp Cumin powder

One tsp Sugar

Salt to taste

½ tsp red chilli powder or paprika powder

One tsp freshly grated Ginger (DO NOT and I mean do not use bottled Ginger)

Wash and roughly chop the Tomatoes. Remove the pits from the dates and roughly chop them too.

Heat oil in a pan and since we are using Mustard oil let it reach smoking point. Add the Panchphoron and the Red chillies.

Once they start to splutter, add the Tomatoes and cook till they are almost mushy.

Now add the Dates and mix well. Add ½ cup of warm water and let the dates completely melt away with the Tomatoes.

Add Salt, Sugar, Ginger, Red chilli powder and cook till everything has gelled in a thick mushy consistency.

Sprinkle the cumin powder and let it cool. You can store the chutney in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 10 days.

 

Recipe courtesy : The Bengal Cookbook

Chutney Diaries 4 – The very tangy raw Mango Chutney

Summers are not my favorite part of the year. The crazy hot summer sun makes me angry and really grumpy. Especially in Perth where the temperatures can soar up to 50 degrees sometimes, I just don’t look forward to the summers.

But one thing that I do love about summers is the fact that we get mangoes for a few months. I think for every Indian mango has to be the most loved fruit. We make pickles, chutneys, smoothies, desserts and even curries out of it and the list is never ending.

ImageSo when I saw some raw mangoes in the local super market I knew I had then to make some chutney. And chutney I made, it was tangy, delicious and really easy.

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If you know how to bottle chutneys you can bottle this beauty and use it for some time. The Chutney goes really well as a relish for sandwiches, especially grilled Chicken.  Hope you will try and make use of the Mangoes so readily available in Perth at the moment and make this Chutney for your family.

Recipe ( makes 1 cup, cooking time 20 minutes)

2 medium sized raw mangoes
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp Panch Phoran (Panch phoran is a Bengali 5 spice mix readily available in all Indian shops)
1 tsp Sugar and Salt as per taste
3 whole dry red chillies
1 tsp turmeric powder

1) Wash and remove the skin and the seed of the Mango and cut into small pieces.

2) Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan till it is hot. Add the Panch phoran, once the seeds splutter add the dry red chillies.

3) Add the chopped mangoes and cook on a medium flame. The mango will go all pulpy and mushy.

4) Add the salt, turmeric powder and sugar mixing well. Cook till the mango has completely mushed up.  As the Mango I used was very tangy I had to add a little extra Sugar to balance the flavors, so please adjust the seasoning as per your taste.

Cool and put it in the fridge in an air tight container.

The Chutney diaries Part 3 – Mint & Peanut Chutney

Hello, Hello keeping in line with my promise to create different types of “Chutney’s ” every fortnight, let me introduce you to the very special chutney which is very popular back home in Mumbai. It is almost a staple condiment on our dinning table and something we use like Butter to lather over our sandwiches, use a dip for Nachos and even as a marinade for Chicken drumsticks.

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It is very spicy considering I add 3 – 4 green chillies in it and can really tantalize your taste buds. The ingredients are easily available and there is no cooking required, so there is no reason why one cannot make it. If you don’t want to make Indian food to serve with it, that’s fine. Just serve it with a bowl full of French fries or Nachos and you will have a very different dip on your hands.

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It is very quick to make and I just cannot have enough of it. Here is the recipe.

Recipe (No cooking required, ready under 10 minutes)

1 cup fresh green Coriander

1/2 cup fresh Mint leaves

3/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts (make sure you use deskinned Peanuts)

Juice of 1 Lemon

2 Garlic cloved

3 -4 Green chillies (you can use only 2 if you don’t like it really hot)

1 small Onion roughly chopped

Salt to taste

1) Wash the Coriander and the mint and put everything (Except the Lemon) in a blender/grinder and blitz a few times till you have a nice paste.

2) Make sure there are no Peanut bits.

3) Add juice of half a Lemon and taste, if the chutney is too spicy add the remaining Lemon juice.

4) Chill and serve with anything you want to as a Condiment.

Tip: I love to marinade Chicken drumsticks with this Chutney and grill them. Tastes absolutely delicious.

The Chutney Diaries Part 2 – Walnut Chutney

God we love our Chutney’s don’t we. An Indian dining table is always incomplete without the mandatory serving of home-made chutneys which excite and tantalize our taste buds. And every region in India has its own regional speciality and sometimes there are several.

And the funny thing is different types of chutney are made for different foods. We slather them on bread, use them as dips and if you are a glutton like me, we also eat them on their own dipping one finger at a time in the bowl full of deliciousness.

I try different variations of Chutney’s every week and always get rave reviews when I serve them to unsuspecting guests. So when I stumbled upon a “Walnut Chutney” recipe on Spiceroot’s blog I was intrigued. I love Walnuts but the only time I really use them is in a Carrot Cake or a Brownie, I never thought of using them to make Chutney.

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As I have a Mint plant in my kitchen Garden and a healthy stock of Walnuts in my fridge there was no excuse for me not to make it.  I gathered all the ingredients and just chucked them all in the blender. Low and behold the humble Walnut was transformed into this delicious, nutty goodness that just begged to be eaten.

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I served it with some “Hara Bhara Kabab”, which is an Indian starter made with Potato, Spinach and Ricotta Cheese and the Chutney was a hit. Everyone enjoyed it and asked for more. And I was happy to have a new Chutney recipe in my repertoire which was not only delicious but also healthy.

Here is the recipe (no cooking required ready in under 10 minutes)

¾ cup Walnuts halves

½ cup fresh Mint leaves

1 clove Garlic

Salt to taste

2 -3 Green chillies (Green chillies can be pretty hot so use them with some caution)

2 tbsp Water

1)    Put everything in a blender and blitz to a fine paste. You may need to do it a few times as the Walnuts need a little bit of a beating.

2)    Chill and serve with a variety of starters.

Recipe courtesy – Spiceroots