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Oct 1, 2009 05:19 AM

October 09 COTM: "Indian" Relishes, Chutneys and Pickles

Welcome to the October 2009 Chow Cookbook of the Month featuring:

Classic Indian Cooking, by Julie Sahni
Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking

Please post your full-length reviews of *Relish, Chutney and Pickle* recipes here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the book or author and page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

This thread will encompass the following chapters-

Jaffrey, "Relishes, Chutneys and Pickles"
Sahni, "Traditional Accompaniments to an Indian Meal"

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Last night I made Hot Lemon Pickle (Sahni, page 449). You can see the recipe here, as well:

    I used the ingredients listed, but changed the technique -- I was trying to hurry the maturation. Otherwise, I'd keep tasting to see how they're getting on, and there'd be nothing left on the 15th day when they should finally be ready.

    My procedure: Top and tail the lemons, then cut into small chunks, removing any obvious seeds. Chuck them into a microwave-safe bowl. Roast mustard seeds and fenugreek, and add them (whole) to the lemons, along with the salt. Cover bowl and nuke, stirring often, until juices begin to come out. (I used 70% power) When juices start to thicken and rinds can be easily pierced, remove from MW.

    Heat oil (not too hot) and add remaining spices. Cook, stirring, until there's a rich, spicy aroma, then mix into lemons. Fill jar, and let cool before covering. Store in fridge.

    True to form, I've tasted them several times already. I even ate some first thing this morning. That was an eye-opener, wow!

    So . . . the flavour is lovely. There's a slight bitterness, but I think (hope) that will go away. It's more of a lemon-peel bitterness than a fenugreek bitterness, if that makes any sense. The spicing is nice, but they are rather hot, so if you have qualms about heat, then hold back some chilli powder until you've tasted them. There's a thick layer of oil on top -- I should think that wouldn't be the case with the original instructions, as lemon juice wouldn't have been released. I may pour off some oil. I don't think that would cause spoilage. Not at the rate I'm eating them.

    If I were to make the 15-day version, I think I'd still cook the ground spices (chilli, turmeric, asafoetida) in oil to release their flavours, rather than dry-roasting them. There's something about that technique that brings out their best. I might add some whole fennel seeds, as well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Channa

      Here's a photo of the Hot Lemon Pickle on Day 2:

      1. re: Channa

        Looks beautiful. I'm excited to learn that pickles are easier to make than I had assumed. I think I see a lime pickle in my future.

    2. Yogurt with cucumber and mint
      Jaffrey, page 210

      This was simple to throw together, if you have everything in the fridge ready to go. I am picking the last of the mint from the garden so this seemed like a good way to use it. I had Fage yogurt which is probably a little too smooth for Indian chutneys. You simply add shredded cucumber, fresh mint, ground, roasted cumin seeds, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and mix. It was bitter upon tasting, but by the time it was served two hours later, the flavors had melded nicely. I didn't enjoy this yogurt dip as much as I had assumed that I would, however it was a nice counterpoint to the koftas.

      Served with cocktail koftas [Jaffrey, page 47], Cauliflower with fennel and mustard seeds [Jaffrey, page 146], Lentils with Garlic Butter [Sahni page 332], and plain, easy to cook rice [Jaffrey, page 192.]

      3 Replies
      1. re: smtucker

        Always make this when serving an Indian meal--easy, refreshing, and, to us, pretty delicious as a cool counterpoint to the other spicier things on the menu.

        1. re: smtucker

          Cucumber and Yogurt Salad, Pg. 343
          Classic Indian Cooking, Julie Sahni

          Another similar recipe with the inclusion of a tomato.

          Two cucumbers, a ripe tomato, a green chili (I left the seeds and ribs in) plain yogurt and sour cream (omitted) a bit of roasted/ground cumin, a bit of chopped mint and a pinch of salt. The yogurt and sour cream are combined, the vegetables are prepped: cucumbers grated, tomato cored and shredded, chili minced - and set aside till ready to serve then everything is mixed together with the salt added last. One word: Spicy. Also flavorful. However, I thought the tomato was completely lost. I'll be making this again but will probably use the Jaffrey recipe just to taste the difference.

          1. re: Gio

            Cucumber and Yogurt Salad, page 343

            I made a half recipe tonight. I did drain the yogurt for several hours, and also omitted the sour cream. Our serrano pepper was not very hot, so our yogurt salad was quite mild. It was the perfect match for our lamb dish.

            Served with Minced lamb with mint [Jaffrey page 59], Stuffed Summer Squash [Plenty page 69], sitting on fresh Boston lettuce with some diced tomatoes.

        2. Tomato, Onion, and Cilantro Relish, Pg. 215
          Indian Cooking, Madhur Jaffrey

          Ms Jaffrey's intro note states that "This tasty relish compliments almost all Indian meals," and I can believe that. It's a combination of Onion and tomatoes cut into a small dice with cilantro, salt, lemon juice, cayenne, and cumin seeds all mixed together. It's fresh tasting, sprightly with the lemon jc and cayenne and refreshing. Along with this relish I made the Cilantro Chutney on pg. 218. I served both with the Turkey kebabs on pg. 104, a broccoli dish from a Julie Sahni on-line recipe, and steamed Basmati rice.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Gio

            Talk about convergent evolution. First time I made this recipe I hadn't really thought through what the final product was going to look and taste like. Tomatoes, onions, cilantro - duh, it's pico de gallo!!!

            1. re: alanbarnes

              That's funny, Alan. I thought the same. I had a red onion to use up and I automatically used that one as I usually do for the PDG.

            2. re: Gio

              I loved this when I first made it--and, yes, it is like a pico de gallo, albeit with an Indian kick!

              1. re: Gio

                Tomato, Onion, and Cilantro Relish, Pg. 215
                Indian Cooking, Madhur Jaffrey

                Made this tonight as a little bit to serve with dinner, and gosh it was wonderful! I enjoyed mixing it into some of my basmati rice, or adding to a bit of the tandoori chicken, or as a topping for naan bread. Can't imagine how I missed this simple chutney for so many years.

              2. Cilantro Chutney, Pg. 218
                Indian Cooking, Madhur Jaffrey

                Cilantro chutney.... not exactly my idea of a chutney as all the ingredients are whirred in a FP to create a paste, but considering that chutney originated in India, I guess it's a variation on a theme.

                I had to use the miniFP's big brother for this. Into the FP container go 3 cups of cilantro leaves, 1 fresh hot green chili (jalapeño, actually used 2 small ones leaving the seeds and ribs in), 1 1/1T Lemon jc, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t ground, 1 1/2t roasted cumin seeds, FGblack pepper. Process till a paste forms then turn out into a small glass, or other nonmetallic bowl.

                Boy oh boy was this Hot! She says they eat only 1 -2 teaspoons of the stuff and I can see why. It's to be used like we use mustard!! After I tasted it to see if it needed anything else, I had to have a spoonful of yogurt to get rid of the burn, but when eaten with the other components of the meal the heat seemed to be mitigated a bit. Even so, I'll issue a caveat because of heat but don't be put off entirely because you can elect to remove the seeds and ribs of the chili to tame down the heat.

                18 Replies
                1. re: Gio

                  Love, love, LOVE this stuff. If the ingredients are at hand, I'll make it (along with cucumber raita as described by smtucker) every single time I make an Indian meal. Talk about eating more deep green vegetables - this stuff is just loaded with nutrition. And flavor.

                  I use serrano peppers, but remove the seeds and membranes. It usually isn't that hot (at least to my taste), so you may have just gotten some insanely hot chiles.

                  Note: it's just as easy to make a lot of this stuff as a little, and it freezes well. Just scoop out tablespoonfuls onto a cookie sheet, pop it in the freezer, and once they're frozen put the little scoops in a zip-top bag for later use.

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    Oh...thanks for the freezing tip! I hadn't thought of doubling or tripling the recipe. That's a good idea since DH went gaga over it. I'm going to copy your idea of making a raita to go along with the chutney. Thanks for that too.

                    These recipes are my first venture into Indian cooking and I must say, I'm liking both the ease of preprartion and the result.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      This stuff works great as a sandwich spread -- on its own, with butter, or even with more substantial sandwich fillings. This is true of a lot of Indian chutneys and pickles, but particularly dhania chutney.

                      1. re: Scrofula

                        I am having a ball reading all yawls posts this month. I am Indian and an avid cook. I live in the US now and so do quite a bit of non-Indian cooking too. I've been noting so many ideas for meal ideas combining elements of Indian and non-Indian cuisines. Thanks!
                        Gio, I wanted to point out that chutney in India typically means an intense paste of some kind. It could also mean an intense sauce -like a tamarind chutney, or even a dry powdered condiment. The cooked fruit chutney is but one small sub-type and probably got popularized in the west during the colonial times.
                        Alan, freezing coriander chutney is a great tip. I am doing it more these days now that I have a little toddler underfoot.
                        Scrofula, yup chutney makes a wonderful sandwich spread, especially with sliced tomatoes and cucumber. Recently I added some to a cold quinoa salad along with chopped apples, raisins and edamame. And a few weeks ago, used it in lieu of a salsa in a soft taco with rajas filling. I think that time I'd added a small clove of garlic to the chutney. In India it is also common to add a little peeled raw mango, when it is in season, in place of the lemon juice. In summer I sub some of the cilantro with mint for a variation. I always use Thai chilies though. To me the vegetal taste from jalapeno tastes incongruous in a cilantro chutney.

                        1. re: sweetTooth

                          What a pleasure to read your post.

                          My Indian market sells little bags marked "green chilis" which don't quite look Thai, but certainly aren't jalapenos either. Whatever they are, they have a wonderful flavor and are just hot enough for us to stand up and notice.

                          1. re: smtucker

                            I always use cayenne chillis, which are the finger-like ones. They're the "default" chilli over here, as people tend to cook more Indian food than anything else when it comes to spicy cuisines.

                          2. re: sweetTooth

                            Many thanks, sweetTooth, for your advice. I have Thai chilis in the freezer and shall use them from now on. There were so many jalapeños here that I just wanted to use them up. Also, in my mind cilantro and jalapeños go together. But probably in an Indian chutney, as you say. I hope you continue to be a part of this month's cooking adventure with us.

                            1. re: Gio

                              Yeah, to be honest I use the chilies from my Indian grocer, but when I don't want to go out of my way for them, I substitute Thai chilies from a regular supermarket.
                              Gio, I know you did not take it the wrong way when I said that jalapenos don't work for me. But just wanted to clarify that I am all for first and foremost using what needs to be used; second I am all for experimentation and mingling elements from one cuisine into the other and third, I think a lot of people get too hung up on authenticity. That said, food, especially the kind you grew up eating, is so much about memories tied to it. Perhaps that is why jalapenos in a cilantro chutney tastes incongruous to *me* - because I'd never tasted one growing up. :-)
                              And oh yes, I'll be trolling this month's threads for more ideas, so keep them coming you guys!

                              1. re: sweetTooth

                                sweetTooth, I didn't take your remarks the wrong way at all. In fact I just re-read my previous post and noticed that I left out a word. (I am the world's worst typist and have to edit and re-edit 100 times.) I should have typed, "in my mind cilantro and jalapeños go together. But probably {NOT} in an Indian chutney, as you say."

                                Please do follow along. I love reading your clarifications and advice.

                                1. re: Gio

                                  I have to say that my home made green chutney recipe calls for bell pepper to add body, plus Indian long green chiles. But when I am in the USA I make the same green chutney with jalapenos and I love the flavor. The jalapenos give good body to the chutney since they are fleshy and I use a 1-2 of the Indian green chiles for more heat. I don't think jalapenos distort the flavor at all.

                                  I also freeze green chutney to use when needed and agree that it freezes very well.

                      2. re: Gio

                        Loved the cilantro chutney. I used two whole jalapenos and it didn't have too much heat. I grew duddy peppers this year due to our never ending rainy cool summer. But, I loved how fresh tasting this tasted. I was adding it to the turkey kebabs as well as to my basmati rice.

                        1. re: beetlebug

                          After my initial shock over the heat of this chutney I actually liked it too. Used it the next day for lunch with one of the koftas in a pita pocket... with a little mayo . Delicious.
                          My jalapeños must have been extra hot....

                          1. re: Gio

                            Oooh! Your mayo & cilantro chutney combo reminded me of this - aioli for asparagus! Combine mayo + chutney + finely zested lemon or orange. Use as a dip for steamed or roasted asparagus spears. Use some mint in chutney in spring/summer.

                            1. re: sweetTooth

                              mmmmmm, sounds great. on a lamb sandwich, as well.

                            2. re: Gio

                              There's a new Indian grocery near my house, and the lady who owns it suggests mixing coriander chutney with yogurt, so you're not straying far from the traditional path. (Not that you'd care, but FWIW.)

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                Yes! The cilantro chutney and yogurt combo is awesome, even if you don't mix them together. Serve some hot sabudana khichdi or sabudana vada with these two and maybe a pot of masala chai. Heaven!

                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  Harrumph Alan... Are you implying I take liberties with recipes?? Guess I'm busted. I know that to relieve heat-in-mouth use a lactose something ot other.... ergo, yogurt. But now that you mentioned the combination, I like that idea. Thanks.

                            3. re: Gio

                              Cilantro Chutney, Pg. 218
                              Indian Cooking, Madhur Jaffrey

                              Made this again last night but changed it up a bit. Three cups of cilantro leaves are called for but I used 1 1/2c cilantro, 1c of mint leaves and 1/2 cup parsley leaves. Roasted cumin seeds, 2 T lemon juice, 1 jalapeño with seeds and ribs removed, and a pinch of salt were combined with the herbs in a MP and whirred till a paste formed. After putting the paste into a small bowl I added about 3T yogurt and 2T mayo and blended. This was much less potent but had a lemony-herby flavor that was a nice accompaniment to the Turkey Kebabs. The mayo and yogurt seemed to mellow everything out.

                            4. Spinach and Yogurt Salad (Palak Raita)
                              Sahni, page 344

                              I really liked this! Chopped, cooked spinach mixed with yoghurt, sour cream, ground cumin, ground coriander, black and red pepper, and salt.

                              Even though I used nonfat Dannon yoghurt, the sour cream made it rich and creamy. The texture was like whipped cream, not the runny raitas often found at Indian restaurants.

                              I served it with potato parathas, as Sahni suggested, and it was lovely. I think it might be a good dip for poppadoms or even Wheat Thins, and perhaps as a sauce on poached or roast salmon.