Saturday, January 5, 2013

A tale of two chutneys...

We love having friends over at our house for simple no-fuss parties. Earlier I never quite understood why my other-friends-with-kids always preferred hosting lunch/dinners at home instead of going to that new and happening restaurant in town, even though it looked kid-friendly - well, that was until I had a kid of my own! It is just so much easy lazily cooking through most of the day chatting with friends over coffee than the fuss of dressing up, getting kids dressed up, making sure they behave at restaurants and guiltily paying the waiter extra tip for a food-throw party that happened around the high-chair. So while we still eat out quite often for a couple with young kid, slowly but surely many of our social gatherings are finally moving towards home settings.

Now a days I really enjoy hosting simple no-fuss meals with just one or two main crowd-pleasing dishes. It's less work for you and all the same fun. Some of my favorite such menus include a lunch over biryani/raita or a paav-bhaji and bhel day or a dinner over quesadilla or our latest favorite a simple idli-dosa party.

My husband is the official dosa maker of the household. Dosa making is one skill I never quite fully mastered - my dosas neither come out as crunchy or as thin as his; but we are happy with our arrangement; he churns out the best dosas and I make idlis and accompaniments such as sambhar and chutneys. So that brings me to the two absolutely awesome chutneys each of us conjured recently for a new years feast!
Our go-to south Indian restaurant always serves a coconut chutney and a tomato chutney. My previous attempts at a restaurant-quality coconut chutney had failed miserably - I always blamed it on the lack of fresh coconut and the frozen coconut just not cutting it (tips are welcome btw!) so this time we decided to skip coconut and make a green chutney instead. This green chutney is from my husband's family recipe - he remembered the exact taste and based on that we set out to recreate it. I am REALLY happy at how both the chutneys turned out - they were the perfect accompaniment to dosas and idlis. If you are hosting a lunch or dinner, I highly recommend giving a try to a simple idli-dosa party and then making these chutneys to make your menu even yummy-er :)

Coriander Yogurt Chutney (Green Chutney):
(All the quantities are rough estimates; please heavily adapt to taste)
2 large bunches of coriander leaves
1 hot green chili
juice of 1 big lime
few Tbsp whole-milk yogurt
salt to taste

Recipe:
  • Discard thick coriander stems and wash the leaves thoroughly
  • Grind and blend together coriander, chili with lime juice and just a few tsp water if needed. (don't add any more water than necessary - otherwise chutney will ooze out water)
  • Remove from blender. Add yogurt by Tbsps and mix well with salt to taste. Adjust to taste. Cover and let sit in fridge for a few hours

Tomato Chutney (Red Chutney):
1tsp canola oil
2 dried chilis
1Tbsp chana dal
few curry leaves
1/2tsp mustard seeds
1/4tsp asafoetida powder (optional)
1/2 of large onion
1/2 can pureed tomato (or 3-4 large ripe tomatoes chopped)
few Tbsp coconut milk
salt to taste

Recipe:
  • Heat 1/2tsp oil in a small non-stick pot
  • Add chana daal and chilis
  • Once chana daal starts to brown at edges, add onion, cook for a few minutes until softened
  • Then add tomatoes and cook on low heat for 10mins stirring often.
  • Turn the heat off and let the mixture cool.
  • Add to blender alongwith coconut milk and blend until smooth
  • Remove from blender.
  • Meanwhile make a tarka of 1/2tsp oil, mustard seeds, asafoetida powder and curry leaves.
  • Add tarka to the tomato-coconut mixture; adjust for salt and let the chutney sit in fridge for a few hours before serving

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This is a web catalog of the recipes that I have tried and tasted in my kitchen. While these recipes and instructions have worked well for me, please use all the information and the recipes from Ginger and Garlic at your own risk.