Love in the Rural Hinterland

My last post on the search for local ingredients led me to come across what is called “chutney” in most parts of Maharashtra. Now being a resident of the smaller parts of the western state, I know that it is one of the most important ingredient in various every day cooking.

My trip to Jat, a semi-arid district on the borders of Karnataka and Maharashtra led me to discover this wonderful ingredient about three months ago. While having lunch at a colleagues place I inquired about the spice which was put in my ‘desi anda fry’ (organic egg fry). My colleague then informed me about chutney, a mix of ground spices which has a predominance of chillies in it. It was intriguing, I coaxed my colleague to get me some so that I can smell the spice. Her mother looked at me suspiciously as I took a whiff of the spice like a heroin addict.

However, my immense interest in the spice led her mother to give me a bit of the spice so that I can sample it in my kitchen. I was informed that it can be used with various kinds of food preparations. I call it the magic masala (after a few experiments) which can be used with lentils, vegetables and meats.

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While I have tried and tested a handful of meal combinations with the spice, all of which have had a distinct flavour irrespective of me using the same ingredient led me to love this new arrival on the kitchen shelve even more.

To give you a little whiff of my rural find I will share the simplest of the recipe which I tried out with a help of another colleague. The recipe is simple but has an amazing flavour which made me admire it even more than the meat preparations I had tried with my chutney.

Ingredients:

– Black masoor (soaked overnight)- 1 cup
– 1 chopped tomato
– 1 chopped onion
– Chopped coriander leaves
– 2 tbsp chutney
– Salt to taste
– 1 cup water
– Oil

Method

– Heat oil in a pan
– Saute the onions and tomatoes
– Put the black masoor and chutney and fry for about 2 mins
– Put salt and water
– Cover till the masoor is cooked and the water has been absorbed
– Put the chopped coriander and cover for a min
– Remove from heat

The best way to have this is with Bajra Bhakri (or roti). The chutney is also found locally in Maharashtra in various supermarkets, bazaars and local shops but the homemade ones taste the best. There are many households which make it at a large scale for them to either distribute to their loved ones or sell to individuals who are interested in their home made chutney. Every house has a different concoction of the chutney but they all taste great.

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