Hari Chutney (Spicy Indian Cilantro Mint Chutney)
Hari chutney (green) is a spicy preparation served as a condiment to pakora (Indian-style savory fritters) and vadai (fried urad dal). The preparation is very basic: a blend of green chiles, cilantro, mint, garlic and some sweetener to balance the flavors.
The result is a very intense, refreshing dipping sauce that contrasts extremely well with the heaviness of fried food. If you have extra spicy green chutney leftover, it makes a great companion to steamed fish. Once you try it, I'm sure you'll come up with your own uses for this truly versatile chutney.
Yields: 1 pint2 green bell peppers
2 jalapeño green chili peppers
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
2 cups fresh mint leaves, chopped
5 cups cilantro, chopped
juice of half a lime, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon jaggery (see tips), coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate
3/4 teaspoon sea salt (or regular salt)
¼ cup water
Using a paring knife, cut the chiles and bell peppers in half. Remove some of the seeds to make the sauce slightly less spicy. Finely chop the peppers and set aside. Note: remember not to rub your eyes after touching chile pepper seeds.
In a small saucepan, dissolve the jaggery with lime juice and 2 tablespoons of water. Allow to cool completely.
In a blender (or in a large mortar and pestle), combine the green bell peppers, 2 jalapeño peppers (or more to taste), the ginger garlic paste, tamarind concentrate, chopped mint leaves and cilantro. Add ¼ cup of water (or more) for a smooth flow. Add the jaggery. Season with 3/4 teaspoon of salt.
It's great as a snack with Indian-style savory fritters, fish or meat dishes.
Serve at room temperature.
For a bright green-colored chutney, you could quickly blanch both cilantro and mint for about 5-10 seconds in boiling salted water and transfer to an ice bath. I usually don't because I think lime juice helps maintain the chutney's characteristic green color. Lime juice also acts as a preservative.
Indian cuisine always calls for ginger garlic paste. It tastes great and is very healthy for you as well. Just clean a (2-inch) chunk of fresh ginger and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife, or the edge of a spoon, then finely chop the root. Place the chopped ginger and 5 cloves of garlic in a blender and add about 2 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Transfer to a small jar and store in the refrigerator. You can keep this paste for at least a week in the refrigerator.
You can find tamarind concentrate in any Asian store. It has a nice tart flavor. You can also use fresh tamarind pods if you like but I find this to be labor intensive. Wash about a pound of tamarind pods, with its skin still on. Boil them in about 4 cups of water for 15 minutes until soft. Drain and discard the liquid. Shell, seed and remove the fibrous membrane. Blend the tamarind pulp with about 1-1/2 cup of water and add to the cinnamon and star anise-infused syrup. But like I said earlier, I just prefer eating fresh tamarind as is and cook with tamarind concentrate or tamarind powder.
Some people add ground cumin to the chutney but I don't because I find that it over-powers the sauce.
I buy jaggery (palm sugar) from the Indian store. It comes in large chunks that are usually sold by the jar. If you can't find any, you can use brown sugar or regular granulated sugar instead.
Transfer the chutney to a 1-pint jar and store in the refrigerator, cover with 1 teaspoon of canola oil; it will easily store up for a week.Published By: on March 31, 2010.