Friday, March 23, 2018

Raw Mango Chutney

No matter how long the Winter, Spring is sure to follow. And Spring brings with it, transformation. Cold to warmth, grey to color, dry branches to bursts of new leaves, beautiful flowers, and delicious fruits.
Thinking of spring, a vision of succulent, fresh, zingy mangoes pops up in my head. Mangoes are the golden glories of an Indian Spring. From Panna (a cooling summer drink) to mango kulfi (frozen mango dessert), chutney to curried fish, there are several local recipes that use mango as their star ingredient.
Kacha aamer chutney is a sweet and spicy, slightly zingy chutney from the Bengali kitchen and is often included in the lunch thali. A typical Bengali meal consists of 5-6 courses and includes all type of flavors, from bitter to sweet. This raw mango (aamer) chutney or chatni (literally meaning to lick)  is served as a palate cleanser just before serving dessert. It is eaten as a course of lunch/dinner to accent the meal and never used as a dip or relish. The tartness comes from raw mangoes and sweetness by adding jaggery or sugar. Addition of dry roasted cumin powder on top gives a beautiful smoky flavor.
Serve it with lunch/dinner, or spread on toast or dunk it with a bite of paratha. Or enjoy it like I do, all by itself.

Chutney is a versatile spread/condiment that is usually associated with Indian cuisine. Chutney could be sweet, spicy, tangy depending on its main ingredient and could be made of herbs, fruits, veggies, dry fruits or a combination of one or more of these. Most chutneys have similar ingredients, fruits or veggies, sugar, salt, spices and vinegar/acid and these all balance out to adds flavor to whatever it is served with.

Kacha Aamer Chutney (sweet and spicy raw mango chutney)
Ingredients: (yields about a cup)
1 raw mango
2 tsp oil
½ tsp panch phoron
Salt to taste
Red chili powder to taste
1 dry red chili
½ tsp dry ginger powder (you can reduce the quantity as per your taste)
2 tsp lemon juice (more or less based on the acidity of the mango)
½ cup brown sugar (or jaggery)
½ tsp roasted cumin seed powder
  1. Peel the skin off the mango and slice it into small pieces. Add salt, red chili powder and toss to mix. Keep aside. 
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, break the whole red chili into a few pieces and add to the oil. Allow it to sizzle for a few seconds before adding the panch phoron. 
  3. Sizzle for a few more seconds. Now add the mango pieces followed by ginger powder and lemon juice. Stir well to mix it all. Simmer, cover and cook for 5-7 minutes. 
  4. As it cooks the mango will release some water. Uncover and cook on medium flame till mango pulp is tender. 
  5. Now add sugar. If you are using jaggery, add a splash of water to help dissolve it. As the sugar/jaggery melts there will be an increase in the liquid content. Continue cooking at low heat and keep stirring to avoid burning. 
  6. Cook till mangoes are a little bit more than fork tender. As the chutney cools, it will thicken. So keep that in mind as you cook down the liquid to achieve the desired consistency. Sprinkle the roasted cumin powder on top and mix to combine. 
  7. When it cools completely, transfer the chutney to a glass jar and refrigerate. Keeps well for a couple of weeks.

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