Fresh chuntney and instant pickles at home

Andhra Pradesh is famous for its chutneys (Pachadi). Chutney is a fresh or cooked relish. A fresh chutney in India is customarily ground on a grinding stone and is made daily. The main ingredient can be nuts, lentils(dal), fresh herbs, fresh chilies, ginger, fresh vegetables, leafy vegetables and fresh green mangoes. Lime juice, tamarind, jaggery are added for additional taste. Seasoning for a chutney is commonly with spices like methi seeds, mustard seeds and hing. Cooked chutneys are made seasonally using fruits like tomatoes, mangoes, tamarind, which are combined with fresh seasonings like ginger, hot chilies and lemon juice, tamarind pulp (add little warm water and soak tamarind for 15 mins, mix well and sieve the pulp into a bowl) and cooked with spices to create a heavenly concoction of tastes.

Unlike many salty, oily, or sweetened pickles, fresh chutneys are prepared primarily with digestive spices such as ginger, lime, or lemon and tamarind. The texture as well as the intensity of chutney varies depending on the entrée with which it will be served. Chutney can be sweet-and-sour for a spicy main dish or extremely hot with a lot of green or dry red chilli, to be paired with a mild dish.

A complete Indian meal has four elements: a bread ( Roti ) and/or rice, a vegetable dish, a dal (lentil-based dish, Sambar or Rasam), chutney or pickle and curd ( perugu/yogurt). If you are in a hurry, the simplest meal might be just some rice or bread and chutney, but no Indian meal would be served without chutney.

Chutneys enhance the taste and stimulate appetite, a chutney is similar in concept to a Western condiment such as relish, sauce, or salsa, which is served not as a side dish but as a garnish and in small quantities. Sometimes a particular chutney is essential for a dish, as mint or green chutney (made with coriander leaves, green chillies, lemon/lime juice and spices) with samosas and coconut chutney with idly and dosa. Or the type and texture of chutney is chosen based on available ingredients.

There are two different types of condiments commonly used in Indian cuisine. One is the simple fresh chutney that is made for daily use, and the other is a more complex preserved condiment or pickle, called Ooragaya or Avakaya(commonly made with raw mangoes, goose berries, raw tamarind, gongura leaves) in Telugu. The main pickling agent being sesame oil , Mustard oil or ground nut oil.

In some chutney recipes, the main ingredients are cooked briefly before grinding, but are always cooled before serving. Many traditional Indian cooks still use a stone mortar-and-pestle to make fresh chutneys, but they can be made more quickly with a blender or food processor. To get an authentic taste I use pestle to make some chutneys.


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