Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pudina chutney - a minty fresh experience

I love to be outdoors, and I prefer walking in lush green woods to be outdoors as in malls. It is just a personal preference. While it is enjoyable to run on the treadmill set up inside the house, it definitely is much more therapeutic to go outside and get some fresh air along with the exercise. If all this talk is giving the impression that I am some kind of a fitness freak, let me correct the wrong notion because I am just a conscious person about my well being. On another note, I tend to believe that weight (or the lack of it) is not related directly to how healthy you are although I would love to lose a few pounds just for the sake of being able to get into those college days pair of jeans I keep hidden in the closet always :-).

Well what is outdoors got to do with today's post? Bear with me while I set the stage and take you there. With the weather being what it is currently, I am just setting out on my long walks almost every evening and BH has been a very willing companion if he makes it home in time. I take the saying 'take in the smells and enjoy the nature' literally when I walk outdoors. If I see a Magnolia tree full of white or pink blossoms at a distance, I pace myself so I am inhaling when I am closer and around the tree, if I smell anything fragrant, I stop and look around until I spot a lilac bush or a jasmine creeping out of a neighboring fenced backyard :-). So I understand completely when BH said the other day that walking with me was very similar to walking Flora (our part lab, part terrier 50 pounder) except that we go after different kinds of smells, ha ha ha..
A small lake by the side spotted on one of the walking trails - surreal & beautiful
And why am I talking about aromatic experiences? But I am coming to the point, I promise. I am almost there. Before leaving India, I knew what mint or pudina was, that wonderfully fragrant herb which literally carries the pulavs and biryanis of the world on its fragile shoulders. But life was very simple back then, I used to go to the corner vegetable shop and ask for a bunch of pudina if we were out of the herb in the back yard or the lady with the wicker's basket would bring it along with many other fresh greens early in the morning. When I went to the farmer's market here for the first time and tried to pick a bunch of mint, I was offered a choice of varieties of mint - spear mint, pepper mint, curly mint, apple mint, ginger mint and some more. I stood there completely lost and then tried to smell each of them in the hope that I might be able to recognize some familiar aroma. I think I finally got home some spear mint since pepper mint sounded like a candy to me and the other mints were totally unfamiliar. This morning, we went to a garden store to get some saplings for our summer kitchen garden, ended up buying stuff for another raised bed (yes, we are both crazy about gardening though we haven't found our green thumb flourishing since we moved here), seeds to start and some plants for a head start. And I found a couple of new mint varieties named grape fruit mint (smelled heavenly, milder mint with a hint of citrus) and chocolate mint (not for me, too strongly minty) and I have brought a small grapefruit mint plant home. I will keep you posted on the progress as it takes root in the backyard.

Last year, one of my generous friends and DD's music teacher not only gave me a big bunch of pepper mint grown at home, she also gave me a rooting to plant. I put it in the pot since mint is notorious for hogging space and growing wild, used it a couple of times before winter set in. Through the winter, the pot looked completely devastated and its chances of springing to life seemed really bleak. But nature takes over and communicated with the plant through the temperature changes and 2 weeks back, there was a definite green patch all around the pot's top surface and then it just grew big in no time. Here is how the pot looked yesterday before I harvested some to make my all time favorite pudina chutney.

There are different recipes of this chutney and amma makes it without coconut but I love nammamma's version with the coconut. Flavored with home grown pepper mint, this was one delicious chutney. This is the same chutney I added to my pesto pasta once. Mix it with rice, eat it with dosa or idli or bread - it tastes refreshingly divine.

What do you need to make pudina(mint) chutney? 
1 big bunch of fresh mint - leaves picked (makes about 2 packed cups of leaves)
1/2 cup grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
marble sized tamarind
2 Tblsp chana dal/kadle bele
1/8 Tsp fenugreek seeds
3-4 green chilies (adjust to taste) - broken/cut into two pieces
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 Tsp oil
How do you make pudina(mint) chutney? 
  • Heat oil in a wide pan, add the chana dal, fenugreek seeds and green chilies until dal turns light pink and green chilies form blisters on their skin. 
  • Wash and tap dry mint leaves. 
  • Add the mint leaves to the pan and roast it stirring frequently for about 4-5 minutes or until the leaves wilt and become limp. 
  • Switch off and let cool. 
  • Take the roasted ingredients along with tamarind, salt and coconut to the blender and grind into a slightly coarse textured paste using water as needed. 
  • Use lemon juice for tartness instead of tamarind. Add lemon/lime juice to the chutney once it is ground and give it a good mix. 
  • I keep one of the green chilies aside without roasting and add it while grinding. This gives a little 'aha' feeling on the tongue because of the raw chili. 
  • If your mint is tender, use the stalks too in the chutney. Avoid if it is too think or looks fibrous when you break it. 
  • I usually add the tamarind piece to the pan just before switching off the stove to make it softer and more amenable to grinding. This is not needed if your tamarind is soft and sticky. 
  • You can skip the chana dal and use roasted chana (also called kadle in Kannada and chutney dal generally) you get readily in Indian grocery stores for an easier chutney. Nammamma used both as kadle gives more volume to the chutney. I personally prefer to up the volume with chana dal as I like that taste better. 

Beginner tip: Whenever roasting green chilies in oil, make sure you have either cut it or broken it in to pieces to avoid it popping all over. 


NamsVeni Pothas said...

pudina chutney simply i love it and it's strong mint flavor. i am happy about your walking . good luck. keep walking.

Priya Suresh said...

Love pudina chutney,super fresh mint leaves, loving it..

Beautiful lake view..

kitchen queen said...

delicious pudina chutney.

Nandita SS said...

Pudina chutney is always a welcome dip at my place!!! Loved the recipe Nagashree :)

Kaveri Venkatesh said...

Very flavorful chutney...

Shweta Agrawal said...

Such beautiful clicks. Amazing colour and texture
Do visit and follow my blog

Shweta Agrawal said...

they look so perfect. Beautiful colour and texture..
Do visit and follow me

Nagashree said...

Thanks all,

Shweta - thanks for dropping in, I will hop over to your blog shortly.