April 27, 2022
Making mint-cilantro chutney always makes me think of the Pepperidge Farm outlet store driving distance from King of Prussia, PA, where I grew up. Kind of odd that my mind goes immediately to the Norwalk, Connecticut-based company rather than Indian food? Not really.Because the way my mom used this chutney the most for us growing up Indian-American in Pennsylvania was slathered on the thinnest of thin white bread. The kind you could only find at the time at Pepperidge Farm. She'd coat one slice with loads of chutney. Another slice she would coat with butter. The two sides would meet, she'd carefully trim the crust, and cut it into four identical squares.That would be lunch, a snack, or stacked and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for a road trip to Hershey Park or the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia about 40 minutes away. Typically we'd start digging into the cooler a few minutes into the ride fighting for the sandwiches and passing them up front to dad who always drove. If mom got gourmet about it, she'd add thinly sliced cucumbers and tomatoes. But, those sandwiches had to be eaten right away or they would get soggy so we never added ingredients to the ones we packed for road trips. Of course, we would always have chutney handy for our samosas and pakoras, fried puri, and nightly Indian dinners. But, somehow the sandwiches felt the most special.Which is why this week I'm on a mission to find that perfect loaf of Pepperidge Farm bread. Stay tuned for the photos. But, in the meantime, make this super easy condiment to eat on the side of your Indian food or with any fried snack.
I often get a small bowl of dal or basmati rice and top it with a dollop of chutney as an extra layer of flavor. If you don't have cilantro, just make it with mint alone, using 4 cups of mint leaves. This chutney will last in the fridge for up to a week. I dole it out into ice-cube trays and freeze it so that I can defrost a cube and have it on hand any day of the week and any time of the year.
Makes 1 cup
1/4 - 1/2 cup water
1 small lemon juiced
1 small shallot (or yellow or red onion)
1-3 green Thai chiles, stems removed and roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
1-inch piece ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon gur (jaggery) or light brown sugar
2 cups tightly packed mint leaves
1 bunch cilantro with stems (trim ends), roughly chopped
1. In a high-powered blender like a Vita Mix add all of the ingredients in the order listed above and process until completely smooth. It's important to start with the liquids to cover the blades, then to add the heavier ingredients to help process the chutney, and then add the lighter herbs. I've tried it a few different ways and found this works the best. Why do I recommend a high-powered blender? To get your chutney as smooth as possible. You can use a food processor but may need a little more water for the correct consistency. Use 1/2 cup of water if you are using a larger blender, which makes the ingredients easier to process. Your chutney will be only slightly more watery. Most recipes use 1/4 cup of water - I just found a little more water makes things easier to process.
2. Turn the blender off and push the product down with a rubber/silicon spatula and process again if needed. It is important to chop the cilantro stems in smaller pieces so they do not get caught in the blades. While the cilantro stems are tender and you can use them, the mint stalks are tough and should be discarded. I always scrape out as much of the chutney as I can and then take a tiny bit of water to pull the rest out from the jug and lid. (I hate wasting any of it.) This, you can add to your chutney or you can pour into a glass and drink as flavored water.
My recipe above is just one variation of green chutney - the way my mother made it growing up in our home. I did use double the amount of water then some other recipes, but I found it was a good move. It let me process the chutney more easily without it getting too watery. If you prefer less water, just process your product a few times to get it to that smoother consistency by stopping and pushing the product down into the jug a few times. Some replace the lemon juice with vinegar, which has a sharper taste profile and why I stuck with lemon juice. In restaurants, you may notice the chutney seems creamier or a lot more watery. Some add a few tablespoons of plain, unsweetened yogurt, or even more water. Some also add a tomato. We don't do any of that in our household, but it's always fun to experiment. You can also add a half green apple, a green mango, or a piece of green papaya, for a slightly tart taste.
1. On the side of a North Indian meal. Place a small dollop on the side of your plate, and as you mix your rice and curry and/or bread, add a little bit of chutney for extra flavor.
2. As a dip for fried snacks like samosas and pakora. Or, use it with fries, egg rolls, or even on a fried egg.
3. As an extra flavor punch for curries, soups, and rice. Just add a dollop to a dal or curry before serving. Or, add it to your rice for a delicious quick meal.
4. Spread on Indian bread like freshly-fried puri, naan, roti, or paratha.
5. On buttered bread or a cracker with sliced tomato, avocado, and cucumbers. As a splurge, I like layering chutney on a low carb cracker with cream cheese.
6. As a topping on boiled eggs.
7. As a topping for a burger - meat or vegetarian.
8. With meat - as a dip for grilled chicken, lamb, or a steak. Or slathered ahead of serving.
9. On corn on the cob with a little butter.
10. As an oil-free salad dressing mixed into legumes, veggies, and quinoa.
Find the recipe in my books: Turn to page 41 in 'Indian For Everyone', where I give you a straight mint chutney or page 220 in 'Vegan Indian Cooking'. Don't have my books? Why not? Hop onto Amazon any time and get your own gateway to homestyle Indian.
Watch me make it!
Do anything different with your chutney? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
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