Jun 12, 2008

Green Chutney

You know the green and reddish brown chutneys you see in Indian restaurants? I'm never quite sure what I'm supposed to do with them, but I can't get enough of the green one. On naan bread, on rice, on veggies, just on a spoon. I love the stuff. It's so brightly flavored and refreshing.

I really like Indian food but don't know enough about it. I've tried some recipes here and there but never really found a source to rely on heavily. Until now.

Indian Home Cooking is my new go-to source for Indian feasting. It's written by Suvir Saran, the chef of New York's Devi restaurant. But tackling a new cuisine, especially a foreign one, can be daunting. This book is designed for American cooks using mostly supermarket ingredients.

Originally, I checked this book out from the library (yes, I'm a nerd) thinking I'd try a few recipes. But when I plopped down on the sofa with it, I found myself bookmarking so many pages, I realized immediately that I'd need to get a copy to keep. There's just too much in this book I want to try. Like lentil dal with ginger, chiles and cilantro; lentil dal with cinnamon, cardamom and cloves; stir-fried green beans with coconut; cauliflower hyderabad style; sweet and sour butternut squash with ginger and chiles; vegetable jhalfrazie; butter chicken; coconut chicken with cashews; salmon curry; pineapple raita; lamb with almonds, cardamom and coconut...I could go on and on.

But first, the green chutney. I was so excited to make this, I anchored dinner around it. I made the chutney with cilantro, mint, green chiles, ginger, onion and lemon. Then I threw together some wraps using a new naan bread I discovered at Whole Foods. It's a house brand that comes in several flavors. We used the whole wheat. You just pop them in the toaster oven briefly and they're ready to go. Use them as we did, as a wrap, by themselves with your Indian feast, or just as a raft for a quick pizza. You can freeze them or they keep well in the fridge.

Saran notes that you can vary this to your liking. Skip the mint and use only cilantro, add green mango for increased sourness, increase the chiles for a spicier flavor or increase the mint and use less cilantro (but don't omit the cilantro altogether).

I love it just like this. I love, love, love all things mint. This isn't overly minty but has a beautiful balance of the freshness of the mint with the green flavor of the cilantro, soft heat of the ginger and sourness of the lemon. I could eat this stuff every day.

Green Chutney (Haree Chutney)

1 1/2 cups firmly packed cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup firmly packed mint leaves
2 - 3 green chiles (I used jalapenos)
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped into chunks
1/2 onion
juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and whiz into a purée. This will take a little while. Stop frequently and scrape down the sides to get it to all blend together. Add more water if you need to, but this will soften the flavor.

Refrigerate before serving to allow the flavors to come together.

Keeps for 4-5 days in the fridge. (Note: a pinch of vitamin c powder would probably help it maintain it's bright green color if you're not serving it the same day.)

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Adapted from Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness.

Serving suggestion: I wanted to really focus on the flavor of the chutney, so I threw together a basic little wrap and used this as the sauce. Using the Whole Foods naan bread, we added some shredded roast chicken, red bell pepper strips, slices of cucumber and a sprinkling of fresh mint. Fast, healthy and easy. Let me know what you use it on.

No comments: