I think that I have repeated enough number of times that I hardly store pickles. On the other hand, I am very fond of chutneys, thogaiyals, thokkus etc. I keep small containers of such in my refrigerator.
Most times I keep the dry chutneys for fear of not consuming quickly; however, those like puli-inji, milagai gojju will stay so long as a fortnight.
I found this very interesting recipe written in amma's notebook. I did not recall that she ever made it for us though.
She had copied it as dictated to her by Semboli maami (Shenbagavalli, must have been the name, but I have always heard it the other way). This old lady was widowed quite young and in line with the tradition of the bygone era, she had shaven her head, given up jewellery and finer things; she made her living by undertaking cooking assignments for small functions and gatherings. She would go and assist anyone when there were guests and a huge menu was to be served or loads of bakshanams were to be made. Those were the days when you visit your grand parents during long vacations,and allow them to indulge you with food among other things.
She also helped out with chores like giving body massage and bath to the newborns and those who were delivered of those newborn babies. She lived about half a kilometre away from my maternal grandparents' home and used to walk the dark streets at dawn (three in the morning, is not dawn though) braving the street dogs that walk along side her.
My mother recalls her adhirasams, that used to be 9 inches in diameter and as thick as the pizzas of today, dripping ghee.
I had copied the recipe of this chutney sometime in May 2009 and never attempted to make it at home until very recently. Inviting guests for lunch during navrathri was the opportune time to try something fresh. I had the elumichchangai oorugai ready; so I opted to make this chutney.
What I did not expect was that my husband would find it lipsmacking good! That must say something: someone who has no inclination to try pickle type chutneys, fell for it!
This chutney keeps excellently well at room temperature for about 6 -8 weeks, is an added bonus.
Pachchai Milagai Chutney
20 numbers long variety fresh green chillis
1 medium lime size ball of tamarind
2 tablespoons powdered jaggery
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder
1 tablespoon salt (adjust according to the spice level of the chillis)
3 tablespoons sesame seeds oil (or any cooking oil)
(amma's note book does not give exact measures or procedure. I had to work my way around and am detailing my method.)
Choose fresh green chillis. Wash them and pat them dry with a towel. Remove the crowns and slice the chillis.
Place a pan on the stove and dry roast the salt and asafoetida powder. Keep aside.
Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in the same pan. Toss the chillis in the oil until they have turned a bit soft.
Remove the chillis from the heat and drop the tamarind torn in bits in the pan. Toss this in the pan so the tamarind gets soft.
Bring this solution to a boil and allow it to boil a few minutes. Switch the heat off.
Place the chillis, tamarind and salt- asafoetida mix in the jar of the blender. Grind to a coarse past. Add very little water as possible, just as much that the tamarind gets blended.
Remove from the blender, use the jaggery solution to clean the jar and recover the adhering paste. Add the turmeric powder to the mix.
Heat the rest of the oil in the pan. Drop the mustard seeds in the hot oil. When they crackle, add the fenugreek seeds. Toss them until the fenugreek seeds are brown but not charred.
Reduce the heat and transfer the blended mix to the pan. Cook this on low heat for about 8-10 minutes.
Higher heat and over cooking will caramelise the jaggery. So do this carefully.
Switch the heat off. Allow the chutney to come to room temperature and then store in clean jars.
This can be eaten as an accompaniment for dosais, adais, rice and even chappatis.
As the added water content is very little, the chutney keeps well. Storing in the refrigerator is recommended, though it keeps even in room temperature.
Jaggery can be added if you like the hot and sweet taste. The above tastes quite spiced and hot.
I am happy to have tried a good recipe that suits our tastes and my guests liked it very much too.
If the chutney gets too dry for your liking, take the serving portion in a bowl and add warm water to that just before serving.
With the above measured ingredients, the yield was just sufficient to fill a 100 ml jar. We finished the same within a week.