250gm alu bukhara (dried plums)
30gm (¼ cup) raisins
25gm (¼ cup) almonds
7gm (1-inch) ginger
5gm (2 tsp) peppercorns
½ tsp kaalo jeere (nigella seeds)
30gm (2½ tbsp) mustard oil
1 tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
6gm (to taste) salt
80gm (to taste) sugar
3gm (8–10) mint leaves
1. Soak the alu bukhara and raisins in separate bowls of water for 30 minutes.
2. Slice almonds, finely chop the ginger and grind peppercorns to a fine powder.
3. Heat 1 tbsp oil and fry kaalo jeere in it for about 20 seconds. Drain over a paper towel. Once slightly cool, grind it to a powder.
4. Fry the almonds in the same oil. Set aside.
5. Boil the soaked alu bukhara in 575g water until softened (you can use the same water in which alu bukhara were soaked).
6. Stir once in a while so that the alu bukhara starts disintegrating. This should take about 25–30 minutes.
7. Add the soaked raisins, salt, sugar and chopped ginger. The quantity of sugar will depend on how tart/sweet the alu bukhara are.
8. In another pan, heat 30gm mustard oil. Once it starts smoking, turn off the heat. When the oil cools down slightly, add the kashmiri red chilli powder.
9. When it turns a bright red colour, pour the oil back into the chutney.
10. Add the fried almonds.
11. Adjust the consistency of the chutney, adding some water if needed to loosen it up. If the alu bukhara are still whole, you may want to smash some of them with the back of your ladle.
12. When the chutney is done, that is, when it has turned syrupy, sprinkle pepper and fried kaalo jeere powder. Continue cooking for 2 more minutes.
13. Turn off the heat before adding the mint leaves.
14. Serve the chutney with papad or by itself
• Unlike most Bengali chutneys, which are sweet, this one is spicy. The heat comes from kaalo jeere powder, freshly ground peppercorns and finely chopped ginger.
• Bengali chutneys are usually served right at the end of the savoury courses, just before desserts.
• Don’t skip the mint leaves. It lightens the flavours and adds a last-minute bit of freshness.
Note: This article was first published in February, 2021
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