RCI Hyderabad: Hyderabadi Mint & Coriander Chutney

It’s been a while since I had time to take part in what is probably my favourite event – Regional Cuisines of India (RCI), the blogging event started by Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine, to celebrate the rich and diverse cuisines of India. This month I’m back, and exploring the cuisine of the princely state of Hyderabad. Our host this month is Mona, from Zaiqa.

Mona has a whole host of mouthwatering Hyderabadi recipes on her blog, and many of them caught my eye. One of them inspired me to create this lovely chutney, based on a treasured family recipe that Mona’s grandma used to make. I kept the ingredients the same as Mona’s, apart from substituting Thai red chilies for green chilies only. I also adjusted the quantities of tamarind to suit our taste, and the fact that I was using concentrate: I reduced it, otherwise it would have killed off all the other flavours. Also, my curry leaves were tiny, so I added a few more to give them a more prominent role in the chutney. All of this really shows how it’s necessary to work with the ingredients at hand, taste them to get to know them, and adjust the quantities accordingly.

 

Coriander and Mint Chutney 

(Hara Dhaniya aur Pudine Ki Chutney)

 

SOURCE: adapted from Mona’s recipe at Zaiqa

PREPARATION TIME:10 – 15 min

COOKING TIME: 2 – 3 min

CUISINE: Indian – Hyderabadi

SERVES: 2

 

Ingredients:

1/4 – 1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1 tbsp sesame seeds

a little groundnut oil

1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves, washed and dried, roughly chopped along with the tender stems

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves – 1 cup, washed and dried on paper towels, roughly chopped, only leaves

4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

6 green finger chilies, washed and roughly chopped (or fewer, according to taste)

8 – 10 fresh curry leaves

1/2 tsp tamarind concentrate

Salt to taste

 

Method:

  • Heat the oil on medium high heat, and as it warms up, add the shredded coconut and the sesame seeds, and roast them both together till light brown and aromatic. Let it cool. Keep aside.
  • Put the coriander leaves, mint leaves, garlic pods, red and green chillies, curry leaves, tamarind pulp, sesame seeds, shredded coconut and salt in a blender, and blend it till nice and smooth. You can add about half cup of water to aid in the blending if needed.

 

Notes

Tamarind is very strong-tasting and it can overpower other flavours. It’s best to add it cautiously.

The chutney keeps well in the fridge for up to a week. However, with time, all flavours fade, except for (you’ll guess) tamarind. You’ve been warned!

I served this with a fragrant and simple Hyderabadi tomato-based chicken curry (Hyderabadi Murgh Tamatar), which worked really well and perked up the dish considerably.

 

Verdict

Fragrant and tasty chutney, with vibrant, clean spicy notes of the green chilies. Enjoyed it, & will make again!

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Cooking a hated vegetable dangerously

 

Image: Wikipedia Commons

 

Cooking a hated vegetable dangerously. This is what the Significant Someone would say if he saw me now. But my policy is: the one who is not here doesn’t get a say in what’s for dinner. So I do it my way. Or rather Madhur’s way. Dangerously cooking a plum purple aubergine on an open gas fire! Praying I don’t burn the house down (I suddenly remember that I was born a Catholic). Making baigan bharta, the Punjabi dish of aubergines, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, onions and chilies. Flavoured with a generous sprinkle of coriander. Yum!

Apart from the danger element, simplicity is the name of the game. Simple spicing and flavour, but utterly delectable results. This is my second try at it. I’ve got to admit that I didn’t have the nerve to cook it properly the first time around. Yes, I copped out, and baked it in the oven on high heat. And that was fine, but it didn’t have that characteristic charred taste. Still very nice, if you don’t have a gas hob.

And the danger? It really is not half as bad as it sounds. The first time I cooked this, I watched it like a hawk, but after I realised I wasn’t going to burn my home down, I relaxed. Still, be watchful and careful if you cook it on the gas hob.

This is my entry for my event Eating with the Seasons – July. Aubergines are in season in Britain at the moment. Enjoy them!

Beautiful flower, isn’t it.

Image: Aubergine flower (Wikipedia Commons)

 

Baigan BhartaIndian Aubergine Pate

SOURCE: Madhur Jaffrey’s ‘Flavours of India’, my wording

PREPARATION TIME: 5 min

COOKING TIME: about 20 – 30 min

CUISINE: Indian (Punjabi)

SERVES: 3 – 4 as a side dish

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 aubergine

1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 medium onion

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 cm peeled and finely grated fresh ginger

3 green chilies

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I tend to leave it out)

1/2 can plum tomatoes

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

3 – 4 tbsp finely chopped coriander

 

METHOD: 

1. Wash your aubergine and wipe it clean. Remove the stem, and prick it with a knife a few times. Now this step is vital. If you fail to do this, you may have a hot and dangerous aubergine bomb exploding all over your kitchen!

2. Place the aubergine on top of a burning gas flame, and cook moving around until charred. Or simply bake it in the oven until soft to touch. Leave to cool, and then peel.

3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in the pan until it starts sizzling when you dip a wooden spoon into it. Then throw in the cumin seeds. Let them sizzle for a few seconds, and when they’ve released their lovely warm aroma, add the onions.

4. When they turn golden, add the garlic, ginger and green chilies. Fry for two minutes until the ginger and garlic mellow a little.

5. Add the tomatoes and cayenne if using it, and season with salt. Cook the tarka (the tomato and onion mixture here) until it becomes shiny dark orange and the oil starts oozing out.

6. Now add the chopped aubergine and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables come together. You can do this for a bit longer if you wish.

7. Add the fresh coriander, stir and remove from heat.

I sometimes add a touch of garam masala at the end.

Serve it with any Indian meal, or even as a dip at parties, or a delicious spread on crusty bread.

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Verdict

This is a lovely way of cooking aubergine. Fragrant, and rather fresh tasting. Mildly spiced, so that the flavour of vegetables really come into their own.

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Other aubergine recipes at Maninas:

Ajvar – aubergine and red pepper relish  V

This lovely relish is probably the most popular condiment of the former Yugoslavia.

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Creamy Guacamole

This recipe comes with my own very special recommendation – it’s guaranteed to please! I got the recipe of a friend last year, and I’ve been making it pretty regularly ever since! I don’t claim any authenticity – just taste! If anyone has an authentic recipe, I’m more than willing to try it out! Enjoy!

Creamy Guacamole

 

Recipe Source: A friend

Preparation time: 5 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 medium to large avocado, ripe

1 tbsp yoghurt

lemon juice to taste

a dash of chili powder

a pinch of sugar

salt & pepper to taste

Method:

Choose only ripe avocado, otherwise it will be impossible to mash, and it will not taste very nice. You will know that avocado is ripe, if it is soft to touch. To be on the safe side, buy avocado in advance, and leave it at the room temperature for a day or two.

Cut the avocado in half, and remove the flesh, scooping it out with a teaspoon. I find this is the easiest way to do it.

Put the avocado and the remaining ingredients in a bowl and mash with a fork. Don’t mash it too much, as you are supposed to have some lumps. Adjust the lemon juice, sugar and chili according to taste.

To serve:

1. serve it as a dip at parties, with tortilla chips, strips of warm pita bread or raw vegetables sticks (pepper, carrot, cucumber, celery, etc.). In that case, make sure you make it just before you’re going to put it on the table, as avocado changes colour quickly. It ends up looking brown-ish, and not very attractive, if left out for too long.

Once, I was making a large quantity for a party, and tried making it in a food processor. I made a mistake of processing it for too long, and it turned out soupy, and not very nice. Instead, I suggest it’s better to pulse it a few time, quickly, and to be careful to leave some lumps! Please learn from my mistakes!

2. serve as an accompaniment to fajitas. When I make fajitas, I often make guacamole to go with it. We add a bit of guacamole inside the fajitas. Again, probably not authentic, but very tasty indeed!

3. This dip can be served on its own, with a bit of bread of your choice. It makes a perfect lunch! I use pita bread, any crusty bread; in fact, anything I’ve got at home!

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