The history of chutneys in India can be traced back to the origin of chaat. Traditionally, a chaat is a snack made of a mix and match of lentils, pulses, fried vegetables and topped with flavourful chutneys. Chutneys are made from fruits, herbs or even vegetables and ground to a paste like consistency.
Food historians believe that, when the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan fell ill, he was advised by his Hakims (medicine men) to eat flavourful foods which are easy to digest. As part of this advice, the royal chefs came up with the idea of mixing nutritious lentils and pulses, which would then be drizzled with tangy chutneys made from tamarind and spicy ones prepared using mint and coriander.
According to betterindia.com, chutneys could potentially be one of the oldest foods consumed by humans. Think of it, chutneys don’t require to be cooked on fire, tempering could have only been a recent addition.
India’s regional chutneys and their names
In Kashmir, one can find doon chetin, which is spicy savoury chutney made with soaked walnuts. From the Himalayan region comes the famous chambha chutney, which is prepared from locally grown chitrali chillies. The Eastern state of West Bengal has some popular chutneys that are sweet and believed to have been influenced by marmalades and jams, which was a favourite of colonial Indian rulers. Two popular sweet chutneys of this region is alu bukhara chutney or dried plum chutney and sweet tomato chutney.
In the western and arid state of Rajasthan, kachri ki chutney or wild melon chutney and in Maharasthra lehsun ki chutney or garlic chutney are a popular accompaniment. Moving towards central India, you will find amrud ki chutney or guava chutney. Whereas one can find a variety of chutneys in the south of India. Be it the thattukada dosa chammanthi from Kerala or red coconut chutney, Allam Pachadi or Gongura pachadi.
Be it as an accompaniment to rice and idli, served as a dip alongside fried pakoras (fritters) or simply as a topping for a chaat. Here are 7 chutney recipes to try this weekend:
1. Tamarind and raisin chutney: A sweet and tangy taste, this is popular across India. It takes 30 minutes to whip up this chutney that is made with soaked raisins and tamarind pulp. Try the recipe here.
2. Alu bukhara'r jhal chutney or dried plum chutney: This is a hot and sweet chutney popular in West Bengal and popularly made during the cold winter months. They get their flavour from nigella seeds, ginger and pepper. Here is the recipe to try.
3. Mangalorean chutney: A spicy chutney made with tamarind pulp, chillies and grated coconut. They are popular in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Try the recipe here.
4. Classic coriander chutney: Made with fresh herbs, this chutney is a staple with many Indian snacks. The recipe has fresh green coriander with a minty twist and for more tang, add a pinch of black salt.
5. Spicy date chutney: Made with dates and regional tempering, this chutney has a thick consistency and tastes like a tangy caramel blend.
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