Sunday, April 27, 2014

Kadle bele chutney (Chana dal chutney) - Ajji's (grandmother) chutney

Looks like I am finding my frequency of posting to be once a week :-), I don't want to repeat myself with the same stale excuses for absconding, so I will not do it today. if you miss my rantings, go ahead and read some of the recent posts to know what is happening. Instead today, I have a really simple and lip smacking chutney recipe that has been a favorite from childhood. There is no big secret here but I haven't seen this chutney made in many homes and since I love chutneys of all shapes, forms, colors, etc.. I think this deserves a space on the blog.
If you are not a chutney (or pachadi or thogayal or chamanthi) aficionado, here is something you need to know. There are 2 kinds of chutneys - one is used as a dip mainly (with idli, dose, chapati, or chats) and another which is coarsely ground and used to mix with cooked white rice. The first kind is usually smoothly ground and slightly watery while the second kind is coarsely ground with less water. Today's chutney is of the latter variety, it doesn't mean you are prohibited from using it as a side dish for idli or dose but it is best when eaten together with steaming white rice and a side of piping hot saaru/rasam, that is the ultimate description of a comfy, homely meal or it could be the opinion of a die hard chutney fan. Did I ever tell you that I ask for a chutney on my birthdays when amma wants to cook something special :-), She was taken aback by the request the first time but now she knows the crazy DIL enough to understand that spicy chutneys are way on top of my list when it comes to food rather than any boring sweet, so I get a chutney on my birthdays whenever she is here :-).

We had an elderly couple live next door in Mysore for a few years. With grown up children living away, they led a retired life and had very predictable days starting with Tata (grandpa) reading his morning news paper from top to bottom while ajji (Grandma) ran around the front yard doing her daily pooja etc. Both of them used to have some juicy exchange of conversations and lovely, harmless banter that was born out of the familiarity of having spent over 4 or so decades in each other's company.  I loved the way ajji dressed up impeccably every morning and would come to water her Tulsi (Holy basil) plant in the front yard. She and nammamma would chat for a while if they saw each other and then go about their chores. Tata was not much of a talker, seemed like a grumpy grandpa but we discovered the jello like heart only over time. He would be all soft and squishy when the grand children came visiting. Ajji was very fond of my mother and they used to share their recipes over the compound wall that separated the 2 houses and many times a small dish would exchange hands too :-).
Summers in India are known to be not just hot but also made some what intolerable to the people that had to stay home without electricity as power cuts (both scheduled and unscheduled) were rampant. On one such Summer days, ajji had made plans to make lunch of anna, saaru & chutney - this is a very, very typical kannadiga fare at home, you would make a chutney if there were no veggies or you just felt like having a light meal. The power went out in the morning but never made it back even as it was nearing lunch time. Tata was losing patience and from what we had seen he was not a person used to eating just anna-saaru for lunch :-). Those were the days when blenders ruled the kitchen and most new homes would not have the traditional stone grinder in the kitchen as it was becoming obsolete. My dad (ever the planner) always made sure that our kitchens had a stone grinder installed in a corner no matter how fancy the times were. We were the only house with a stone grinder in that street. It was rarely used and was usually kept covered to reduce dust setting on it and had to be cleaned and washed thoroughly whenever nammamma decided to grind something by hand. Ajji knew about it and after a quick message across the wall, she came home holding a plate covered with a bowl on top.

She had roasted all the ingredients for the chutney and was waiting since morning to grind it in the blender as soon as the power was restored, but since Tata was getting hungrier and impatient by the minute, she decided to grind it in the stone grinder. Nammamma wouldn't let the old lady sit down on the floor and grind the chutney, so the strong and young person who was loitering at home on that summer afternoon was commissioned to do the manual job which I didn't mind at all :-). Ajji sat on an iron chair in the kitchen and made sure she gave me instructions to grind properly and told me to stop at the right time - yep, it has lots of specifications that the chilies had to be ground well but the chana dal should be just coarse for it to taste right :-). When it was done and I had picked all the chutney into the bowl she had got, she asked my mom for a small cup and dropped a little blob of the chutney into it for us to enjoy :-), it was one of the tastiest chutneys I had eaten (I know I say this to all chutneys, but.. ). Though nammamma made the same chutney, it was the first time I had paid attention to the ingredients and the texture as I was grinding it and probably loved it more because of it.
I remember it as Ajji's chutney since then and here comes the recipe for the same. The key ingredient is good quality asafoetida and the key step is to roast the ingredients with love and patience. I will leave the final consistency & texture of chutney to individual preferences. Go ahead and try this simple food, makes for an amazing meal.

What do you need to make kadle bele chutney? 
1/2-3/4 cup grated coconut
1/2 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
To Roast: 
1/4 cup kadle bele/chana dal
4-6 dry red chilies (adjust to taste)
small piece of tamarind
6-8 fenugreek seeds
3-5 curry leaves
1 Tsp oil
1/8-1/4 Tsp asafoetida
1 Tsp oil
1/2 Tsp mustard
3-4 curry leaves
1-2 pieces dry red chilies (optional)

How do you make kadle bele chutney? 

  • Heat Tsp of oil in a pan, add all ingredients listed under 'To roast'. 
  • Keep the heat on medium and frequently stirring roast the ingredients without letting any of them burn. 
  • After about 4-5 minutes, kadle bele turns light pink and becomes crispy and the red chilies look toasted (without black spots).
  • Switch off and let cool. 
  • Grind the roasted ingredients along with coconut, salt and 1/2 cup of water to a coarse paste. 
  • Take out the ground chutney into a bowl (or a plate like I did for the picture :-))
  • Heat the Tsp of oil, add mustard seeds and when it pops, add the curry leaves & red chilies (if using).
  • Switch off and pour the seasoning on top of chutney. 
  • Mix and serve with hot white rice. 
  • Since this chutney is generally mixed with rice, it is made spicier than normal. Tamarind and red chilies complement and mellow each other down, use them in proportion. 
  • I like to add a couple of drops of oil when I mix, go ahead and use ghee if you like for a flavor boost. 


Kaveri Venkatesh said...

We make this thogayal pretty much the same way but with Moong dal..and without the addition of tamarind and fenugreek seeds...this one looks yum too..Grandma's recipes are always tasty

Priya Suresh said...

Grandma's recipes are really priceless treasures, that chutney is asking me to make some soon, delicious and definitely fingerlicking.

Jayanthy Kumaran said...

Tasty Appetite

Rajani said...

This is my favorite. Teluvaagiro tatte idli jote sakhattagirutte

Nagashree said...

Thanks everyone for your comments on my humble chutney recipe!

Rajani - baayalli neeru barsbitri, I have to now make idli batter and make the chutney again :-)

Savitha Ganesan said...

Perfect chutney for rice.

NamsVeni Pothas said...

wonderful recipe for this grand chutney.

Megha Srinivas said...

I tried it today! Yum it is. Thank you