Despite the fact that desi food is flavourful enough as it is prepared using combinations of different spices, we still want dips and accompaniments such as chutneys, pickles and raitas to go with it. Sometimes to enhance the flavour or texture, or to make it juicier, more palatable, or perhaps to take the flavour to the next level.

In the same way that fries are better when they are loaded, desis like to load their food with more accompaniments.

Chutneys and raitas are surprisingly easy to make; you simply have to blend or grind the right ingredients and then pair them with the right meals. The range of chutneys and raitas includes sweet, savoury and spicy flavours. Making chutneys and raitas is as easy as mix-blend-pour. The added value is that they work as digestives.

MINT CHUTNEY

INGREDIENTS

Mint leaves, without stalks 1 bunch
Tamarind, deseeded and soaked 1/8 cup
Green chillies 5
Red chillies (whole) 4
Salt to taste

METHOD

Grind these ingredients together with some water in a grinder to make a fine paste. A peeled raw mango, when in season, is a heavenly addition to this chutney. This chutney is best with curries such as aloo gosht and arvi gosht, and rice dishes such as khichri, peas pulao and daal chawal.

GARLIC CHUTNEY (GREEN)

INGREDIENTS

Coriander leaves 1 bunch, without the stalks
Garlic 3 cloves
Green chillies 5
Salt to taste

METHOD

Grind these ingredients in a minimum amount of water to make a very fine paste. Stir-fry the paste in a little oil till the garlic becomes pungent and the paste thickens. This chutney is made especially for besan ki roti. To make red garlic chutney for dhoklas, use red chillies instead of green.

DATE-TAMARIND CHUTNEY

INGREDIENTS

Deseeded dates ½ cup
Deseeded tamarind pulp 1/8 cup
Red chilli powder ½ tbsp
Sugar ¼ cup
Salt to taste

METHOD

Boil the dates in some water till they turn to pulp. Add the tamarind pulp and cook for a minute. Add the remainder of the ingredients and bring to boil, then remove from heat. This chutney is good for chaat, nimco and samosas.

TOMATO CHUTNEY

INGREDIENTS

Diced onions 1 cup
Diced tomatoes 1 cup
Coriander leaves a handful
Chopped green chillies 2
Red chilli powder ½ teaspoon
Turmeric powder ½ teaspoon
Salt to taste

METHOD

In a little oil, sauté the onions till they turn soft. Add salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder and stir-fry the spices till they become dark and aromatic. Add the diced tomatoes and stir them in till they turn to a thick paste. Add the green chillies and coriander and cook for a minute. Remove from heat. This salsa-chutney is good to eat with roghni chapatti and paratha.

BAINGAN (EGGPLANT) RAITA

INGREDIENTS

For the temper:
Sliced eggplant 1
Cumin 1 tsp
Red chillies whole 4
For ½ kg yoghurt:
Red chilli powder 1 tsp
Black pepper powder 1/2 tsp Salt to taste

Beat the yoghurt lightly. Add salt, red chilli powder and black pepper powder. Fry whole red chillies. Once they are lightly browned, add eggplant slices to the bhagaar. When the eggplant slices have cooked through, add cumin to this bhagaar. Once the cumin has turned crisp, pour the bhagaar over the yoghurt. This raita goes well with any and every dish.

KACHUMAR RAITA

INGREDIENTS

Yoghurt ¼ kg
Milk ¼ cup
Roasted, crushed cumin ½ tbsp
Chopped mint leaves 1/8 cup Green chillies 6
Peeled, diced cucumber 1
Diced tomato 1
Salt to taste

METHOD

Add milk to yoghurt and beat to smooth consistency. Mix all the other ingredients.

This raita tastes great with biryani.

FRIED GREEN CHILLIES

INGREDIENTS

Green chilli peppers 6 large ones
Achar masala powder
Lemon juice, enough to hold the achar masala together

METHOD

Slit the green chillies lengthwise to create a pocket. Deseed the chillies. Mix achar masala powder in lemon juice to make a thick paste. Fill it in the chilli pockets and close the slit. Fry the peppers in shallow oil till they turn soft. Remove and serve. These stuffed chillies go well with aloo anda curry and peas pulao.

Published in Dawn, EOS, March 4th, 2018

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