Nowadays, it’s common to find a bottle of Indian chutney in the condiment shelf of a western home, occupying a place of pride alongside salsas and relishes.
An old staple of the Indian diet, the versatility of the humble ‘chutney’ (and its well-known country cousin, the Indian ‘pickle or achaar’) can only be limited by your imagination.
In addition to regular flavors like mango and cranberry, think outside the box for interesting chutneys, made with ginger or peanuts, lemon or gourd, green chili peppers or tamarind, cilantro or carrots, prawns or mussels…and my personal favorite, garlic chutney in mustard seeds.
Mathematically speaking, a chutney formula runs something like this:
Main ingredient: fruit, vegetable, seafood or herb
+ Sweetening Ingredient
+ Preserving Element (sometimes just as simple as salt)
= One Delicious Chutney Preparation
Today, we’re highlighting some of our expanding collection of Indian chutney creations, which may have been previously overshadowed by the star attraction main courses that they were accompanying.
Starting with my mom’s Parsi-style Coconut Chutney, always on hand in my home ready for any ‘sandwich emergency’, and moving on to our Spicy Tomato Chutney, hoping it continues to inspire more ideas like the Patata Brava-style Tapas, we’ll end with our party favorite dip for Indian kebabs, Cilantro Yogurt Chutney.
Get set for some mouthwatering chutney fun…
Parsi-style Coconut Chutney
Mom’s coconut chutney remains my childhood favorite sandwich spread (also used as a topping for the traditional Parsi fish preparation ‘Patra Ni Macchi’.)
I like spreading a layer of this Parsi-style coconut chutney on slices of fresh sandwich bread, layered with thinly sliced tomatoes and cucumber or roasted turkey breast. Cut into small triangles, these sandwiches make a dainty and delicious high-tea serving.
3 teaspoons cumin seeds
9 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons coconut flakes/desiccated coconut
2 cups cilantro leaves
1 cup mint leaves
2 Serrano pepper/4 small green chili (reduce for lesser spice)
3 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons white vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lime juice
In a food processor, blend all the ingredients for the coconut chutney except the lime juice really well. Use a few teaspoons of water as required to aid the grinding of the chutney. Once you have a fine paste consistency, mix in the lime juice with a spoon.
Parsi-style Coconut Chutney can be refrigerated in a glass bottle for up to 4-6 weeks; it also keeps well in a freezer for 4-6 months.
Spicy Tomato Chutney
This chutney is ‘my homemade ketchup substitute’, adding a punch to all burgers, hot dogs, sliders…and let’s not forget its role in our Spanish tapas inspiration, Patata Brava-style potatoes. I often mix in this versatile chutney with pasta or use it as a pizza sauce, to amp up the volume on these regulars around our home.
2 cups or 15 oz can tomato puree/sauce/crushed/strained
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon garlic paste
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne powder
¼ teaspoon (pinch) garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar (or refined sugar)
1 teaspoon molasses or jaggery (based on what you have in the pantry)
1/3 cup vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
In a sauce pan on a medium low flame, start by heating the canola oil along with the garlic paste. When hot add the cumin seeds, tomato sauce, spices and salt, brown sugar, molasses, vinegar and ½ cup water.
Cook covered, stirring occasionally till the mixture reaches a thick sauce-like consistency and is down to about one cup. This takes about 20-25 minutes on a slow flame. Drizzle lemon juice and turn off the flame.
Spicy Tomato Chutney can be refrigerated in a glass bottle for up to 4 weeks.
Cilantro Yogurt Chutney
Our Cilantro Yogurt Chutney was born for one purpose: to be served as an accompaniment for Indian kebabs. The refreshing yogurt works like a charm with the spicy flavors in succulent kebabs. I’ve often used this chutney as a dip for crudités, adding an interesting twist to the vegetables.
1 cup cilantro leaves
7-9 mint leaves
2 garlic cloves
¼ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoon sugar
3 teaspoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons thick yogurt (use Greek yogurt, if possible)
In a mini food processor, blend the cilantro leaves, mint leaves, garlic cloves, cumin powder, salt and sugar till you get a thin paste consistency (add a teaspoon of water at a time to help the blending process.)
Then add lemon juice and yogurt, and pulse a few times to bring the chutney together. Serve as a dipping sauce along with any Indian kebab.
Cilantro Yogurt Chutney can be refrigerated in a glass bottle for 1-2 weeks.