Four Types of Chutneys

When I first came to the US from India 20 years ago, everything was new to me. I discovered very quickly that everything in the US is self-service. Being from a country where very few things are self servce, it took some time getting used to. Also, I noticed that there were very few people around, at least very few people walking anyway. So even if I needed help, I could not find anybody to ask questions. After staying at the temporary dormitory for a few days and eating the food that my mom had sent with me (thank goodness for that), I decided to venture out of the university dorm and eat at a restaurant.But before the restaurant story, let me give you a background on why I thanked my mom for sending food with me.

Before the trip, my mom was very insistent on sending food with me – both sweet and spicy foods, Indian pickles (very potent and spicy compare American style pickes) and various dry and wet chutneys. So I land at the airport and the organization that was supposed to pick me up, never came. At this point I realized that I did not have any other place to stay! The next best thing I knew to do was to go to the University of Hawaii campus. So I took a shuttle and it dropped me off in front of one of the dorms. I had to convince the dorm manager to give me a room to stay for a couple of days until I get settled (he kept checking to see if my name was on the list of future residents for some reason). By this time it was already 11PM and he had no other choice but give me a room. Since this was the first time flying out of India and my first time going to another country, it was a little overwhelming to say the least. Due to the time zone difference, I woke up at 2 AM and very hungry. That is when I thanked my mom for sending all kinds of goodies with me. I ate and went back to sleep until I woke up at 11 AM and hungry again. Ate again, showered and fell asleep again! Finally woke up refreshed and ready to explore my surroundings.

Mint and Cilantro

I decided to go out to eat at a restaurant. After asking a few poeple with my, at the time, thick Indian accent and British pronunciations, I almost had to spell some of my words. I go into Burger king of all the places to find out if they had any vegetarian dishes. So I finally ordered the veggie whopper! It was I think a whopper burger without the beef and substituted by tomato, more tasteless lettuce, mayonnaise and ketchup. I kept going there for the next few days and guy at the counter recognized me and would order for me before I even got to the counter. Talk about service! I was impressed! Finally he could not take it anymore and asked me to try something different for a change called French fries. I asked him if it was vegetarian and he said they are fried potatoes. I was so happy to have veggie whopper with french fries. From the looks on his face, he was happy to have introduced me to french fries in addition to veggie whopper. And there started my awesome journey througout the years in the US and discovering various cuisines and restaurants. I had many more fun experiences during my first few weeks in Hawaii that I will get to in future articles.


Chutneys in India are a staple that you eat with your meals. It is an excellent accompaniment with your meals and most of them are easy to make. The four chutneys featured in this post are some of the more popular ones that most people are familiar with. There are also dry chutneys that are made with various ingredients like peanuts, garlic, cilantro etc. Depending on the main meal, different types can be made. I have given suggestions to eat the various chutneys in the recipes below. There are no hard and fast rules to make chutneys. Any ingredient that suits your fancy can be used to make chutneys.

Tomato Chutney

Mango Chutney Laced with Saffron

Recipe has been adapted from the excellent cookbook – Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking

This chutney goes really well with laccha paratha (leavened wheat bread), deep fried puffy bread, potato stuffed chappati (paratha) etc.

1 raw green mango, peeled and grated (approximately 1 cup packed)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/8 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon saffron, crushed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Mix the mango shreds and salt in a medium saucepan and let it stand for 30 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients in the saucepan and place pan on medium heat and bring the contents to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and cook, bubbling, until the shreds look transparent and the syrup is thick (about 20 minutes)

Makes approximately a cup of chutney

Tomato Chutney Flecked with Mustard

Recipe has been adapted from the excellent cookbook – Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking

My wife loved this chutney. The chutney goes really well with Naan bread or crackers or anything else you fancy.

3 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon of urad dal (split black lentils)
1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
2 serrano green chilies, chopped fine
8-10 curry leaves (look for it at Indian or Asian grocery stores)
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped (about 1 1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium to high heat. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. Keep a lid handy as the mustard seeds will splatter all over. After the splattering subsides, lower the heat to medium and add urad dal. Once the urad dal turns light brown, add the onions, green chilies and curry leaves. Cook the onions till they are transparent. Add the garlic and tomato and turmeric powder. Stir a couple of times lightly so as not to crush them.

Lower the heat to medium-low and cook, partially covered, for 15 minutes. Turn once or twice during cooking, making sure not to crush them. At the end of the cooking, the sauce should have thickened and the tomatoes should be soft. Turn off the heat and sprinkle salt to taste.

Makes 1 1/2 cup of chutney

Mint Cilantro Chutney

This chutney is very tasty and goes really well with pakoda and samosa.

3/4 packed cup of mint leaves, separated from the stem
3/4 packed cup of cilantro leaves
1 serrano green chili, chopped into large pieces
(use 2 chilies if you like it spicier)
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of water

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process till fine.

Makes approximately 1/2 cup. Double the ingredients in order to make a cup

Sweet and Spicy Tamarind Chutney

This chutney is sweet and tart and goes well with samosa, pakoda and any other fried dishes

2 oz tamarind pulp
1 1/2 cups of boiling water
1 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon dry mango powder (amchur powder)
(or 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, roasted and ground
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Put tamarind in a medium glass bowl and add 1 cup boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid with a strainer, squeezing and mashing pulp with a spoon to collect as much juice as possible in another bowl. Make sure to scrape the pulp below the strainer with a spoon. Add another 1/2 cup of boiling water to the left over pulp. Squeeze the pulp again and strain the liquid. There should be approximately 1 1/4 cup of liquid.

Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well to blend, and serve.

Makes approximately a cup of chutney. Keeps well for 3 days in the refrigerator and for 6 months in the freezer.

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