Growing up in southern India, one can’t help but be exposed to a constant onslaught of pickles and chutneys. They are everywhere - in your friend’s lunch box, on the kitchen shelves, wedding lunches, picnic baskets, kitty parties, and the list goes on. People eat them day in and day out…..basically with anything edible.
The hot pickles and tangy chutneys were a symbol of good will and camaraderie. Neighborhood aunties shared freshly made ‘Flavor of the Day’ along with equally spicy doses of gossip. There were (and still are) specialty stores dedicated to the selling of these flavorful accompaniments.
I am truly blessed to have experienced hundreds of varieties of pickles and countless types of chutneys; a gift that my less enlightened friends and relatives from elsewhere can’t comprehend. So allow me to share this blessing with you, one recipe at a time, starting with a simple Spinach Chutney.
Things You’ll Need
· 4 tbsp vegetable/canola oil
· 3 cups wilted or frozen defrosted spinach
· 1 tbsp tamarind paste
· 1/8 cup chana dal
· ¼ cup urad dal
· 1 tsp hing/asafoetida
· ¼ tsp methi/fenugreek seeds
· 2 red chillies
· ½ tsp turmeric
· ½ tsp salt
How To Make
In a large skillet/wok (kadai), heat 3 tbsp oil and saute the spinach until well cooked. Set aside. In the same wok, heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil, add hing, turmeric, methi, chillies and the dals. As the dal start turning golden brown, add the salt and tamarind paste, cook covered for a minute. Mix this with the sauted spinach and let cool to room temperature. Grind the mix in a food processor until well blended. Adjust salt and chilli powder according to taste. Also, add more water if a thinner consistency is desired.
1) This basic recipe works for a variety of chutneys including tomato and zucchini
2) Pairs well with tomato omelette (see ‘The Impostor’ for recipe) or any type of rice