A hot favorite of Indian culinary, chutneys are accompanied for every meal in one form or the other. Every region has got its specialist depending on the local produce. While the Northern part of India uses tomatoes, chilies, garlic for chtuneys, South Indian chutneys are coconut based mainly. Sweet and sour chutneys are found all along the country in different forms.
Typically, the original Indian chatni is made from a mix of uncooked fruit (such as mangoes, apples, bananas etc), green chillies, green herbs and spices, an acid base such as vinegar or tamarind juice and sometimes sugar ground together to make a paste. Indian chatnis are fresh and intended to be consumed soon after they are made.
This basic chatni recipe was brought back to Britain during the 18th Century where it was adapted as a way of preserving the surpluses resulting from the autumn harvest of fruit and vegetables. As a result the original recipes were adapted to become more of a spicy preserve or condiment where the fruit or vegetables could be preserved over winter by cooking in vinegar and sugar and flavoured with spices before being bottled.
Indian cookbooks devoted to chutneys generally arrange the recipes according to region, since chutney styles are strikingly different in various parts of the country and among different religious groups. The various flavors and textures are of special importance to Hindus. A few of these are worth mentioning: mango, plum, apple, and apricot chutneys, and various murabbas (fruit in thick syrup) from West Bengal; garlic, sweet and sour mango, and peanut chutney from Uttar Pradesh.
Dry fish, shrimp, and onion chutney from Kerala; pork sepotel and shrimp ballachong from Goa; kanji, tomato and jeera chutney from Punjab; tamarind chutney from Haryana hot mango chutney, guramba, and panchamrit from Maharashtra; chundo and hot lime chutneys from Gujarat; guava and eggplant chutneys from Himachal Pradesh; Nagaland fish chutney; and the various Jain, Parsee, and Sindhi chutneys defined by religious dietary rules. In fact, the murabbas (also written morabbas) evolved out of the Unani system of medicine and owe their origin to Indian contact with the Arab world.
Today’s recipe of Dates and tamarind chutney is one which can be preserved. I’m not adding any preservatives in this. Dehydrating all the ingredients by slow cooking process and maintaining utmost cleanliness with out an atom of water content, will help in storing this chutney for a longer shelf period.
Dates is the star of this dish. With its texture and sweetness, the chutney acquires a different level. Date and tamarind chutney is made both in South and North Indian style which is completely different except the fact that both have dates and tamarind as the main ingredient. I make both of these and store. North Indian style is mainly used for chaat purpose whereas South Indian one is served as a side dish for biriyani or ghee rice. This is usually seen in the Malabar region especially for functions, weddings and festivals.
Balancing each element and ingredient simply make this a delectable excitement. When in the right texture, flavor and consistency, one may find it difficult to stop licking this chutney which is one of my favorites.
Chop the onions finely. Deseed the dated and cut into 4. Split the cashews into two.
Heat a pan with 3 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon ghee. Add the onions, chilies and curry leaves.
Saute till transculcent and add the cashews and raisins. Fry till onions are caramelized.
Now add the spice powders and saute till aromatic followed by dates.
Cook till it becomes mushy.
Add the tamarind pulp followed by the molasses. Combine everything adjusting salt.
Simmer till thick and bubbling until your reach a thick consistency or chutney consistency. Switch off.
Once cooled, transfer to airtight sterilized bottles and use whenever needed.