Sunday, January 13, 2013

2 chutneys for chats & snacks

Happy Sankranthi/Pongal to all my readers. Sankranthi was the first festival celebrated on Sattvaa and for that reason it is always special for me. It also feels good to see that I am starting to repeat festivals which is a perfect indication of the passing time. I am almost ready with my ellu-bella for tomorrow. I am debating whether to make lot of goodies as it is a week day and also we went overboard at a local Punjabi sweet shop earlier this weekend and purchased a whole bunch of jalebis and basan laddoos and kala jamoons. I will come back with my festival specials later on in the week.

When I was recently organizing my posts for the recipe index, I realized there was a category missing in it - this is something all of us at home are absolutely crazy about and something I make almost every week at home :-(. So why was I not posting some of my favorite recipes? How ever much  I tell myself that this is a food blog and make sure my recipes are easy to follow and they satisfy most people's palates, I do see the impact a good picture can have on somebody reading this blog post. I am guilty of that prejudice myself, visual appeal is very important especially when there are hundreds of food blogs with similar recipes. With that I felt somehow my pictures never justified the real deal in many cases. As I get better at food photography, I plan to go back to some of my posts and update the pictures if that makes sense. So with good pictures being the barrier, I had not put a single recipe from this genre for the entire year and I plan to fill that void in the space on my blog this year. So watch out for many mouth watering recipes in that category. Oh, I never mentioned what I was referring to, did I? Of course it is the chats or the Indian street food or the Desi fast food.

Chat is a Hindi word which means 'to lick', these dishes very apt to their name will have you licking your fingers, plates, bowls or whatever you eat them in :-). So why are chats so 'chatable'? A life long chat lover's personal perspective is that chats are in a class of their own with their perfect blend of little sweet, little spicy, little sour, little salty, little crunchy and little chewy. Does that sound like life to you? It does to me, a perfect bowl of chat is a portion of life itself with the nava rasas (nine emotions) and completely irresistible.

As any chat lover will tell you, the first step to making a good chat are 2 very essential chutneys. Once you have these ready in the refrigerator, you can go in there and start putting the remaining 'rasas'/tastes to make up your bowl of chat. So let us start with these basic chutneys today and I will bring a plate of mouth watering chat in the next post. While there are variations especially as you move from region to region in India with some of the basic ingredients that goes into these 2 chutneys, here are the tried, tasted, tested and well liked versions. Give it a try and decide for yourself. All I can say is you won't go back to the store bought jars once you get used to this home made, brimming with flavor chutneys.
Tamarind dates chutney
Recipe source: Sanjeev kapoor khazana
Makes 3 cups of chutney, can be preserved in refrigerator for over a motnh

What do you need to make Tamarind-Dates chutney? 
1 cup tamarind
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup grated jaggery
9 cups water
1 black cardamom
1 bay leaf
1/2 Tsp dry ginger powder
1 Tsp red chili powder
1.5 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
3/4 Tsp saunf/fennel seeds
1 Tsp oil
How do you make Tamarind-Dates chutney? 
  • Heat a big pan on medium heat, add tamarind, jaggery and pitted dates along with the water into it. 
  • Add the red chili powder, dry ginger powder, cardamom, bay leaf and salt and let it all come to a boil. Taste and adjust as needed.
  • Continue to cook until the water reduces to about 2/3 of the original and the sauce thickens slightly - takes about 45-50 minutes. 
  • Heat oil in a  small pan, add the fennel seeds and let them sizzle for half a minute. Pour this into the thickened sauce. 
  • Take a big sieve and pour the sauce through it, mash the contents gently with a spoon and collect the strained chutney in a bowl. Let it cool and refrigerate. 

Tip from the original chef: do not blend or grind the sauce at the end. Just sieve it and give gentle squeezes to the contents with a spoon. Grinding this will bring out a bitterness from the black cardamom and bay leaf. If you do not have a sieve or prefer grinding, fish out these two before adding the sauce to the blender.

Green spicy Chutney (Mint & Coriander chutney)
Makes a cup of chutney
What do you need to make Green spicy chutney? 
1 packed cup roughly chopped cilantro
1/2 cup roughly chopped mint leaves
1 Tblsp chopped onion (I use red onion)
3/4 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
4-5 green chilies (adjust to taste)
small piece of ginger
1 Tsp lemon juice.

How do you make green spicy chutney?
  • Blend green chilies, onion and ginger into a smooth paste. 
  • Add the remaining ingredients except for the lemon juice and blend them into a slightly coarse chutney, use a tblsp of water if needed to run the blender. 
  • Take out in a bowl, add lemon juice and mix well. 
  • This can be refrigerated upto a week, make sure you do not use wet spoons to serve it. 

  • Do not use tamarind paste or concentrate in this recipe, open up the tamarind if it is hard and coiled in a ball to aid the boiling process. 
  • I get soft dates here, if you have the hard ones, soak them in water for about an hour and add it in. 
  • Notice that the Tamarind-dates chutney has equal proportion of tamarind, dates and jaggery, this is how we like it and I have used standard cup this time as I needed to make a big portion. You can increase or decrease the quantity by adjusting the spices while keeping these 3 ingredients equal in proportion. However all these 3 ingredients have a mind of their own and sometimes tend to overpower each other, when the boiling starts taste the chutney and make any adjustment so it gets incorporated as it continues to boil. 
  • Adding the seasoning of oil roasted fennel seeds gives this chutney a wonderful fennel flavor in the background. 
  • Consistency of the chutney is a personal preference and I stop boiling it when I see a slight stickiness from the tamarind and the chutney is easily spoonable on to chats. If you plan to serve this with snacks, let it boil longer and become thicker.
  • These chutneys can be made ahead so you can concentrate your time on preparing the chat if you are making it in large scale. 


NamsVeni Pothas said...

we wish a very very happy Pongal to you all dear Sattvaa readers. nice mouth watering chetneies and chats. especially the dates one. wow. really wonderful.
once again happy Smkranthi with Ellu- Bella.

Kannada Cuisine said...

Sankranti Shubhashayagalu Nagashree...