These two mysterious sauces at Indian restaurants used to always intrigue me. Before I was of the mind to simply ask what they were, I just dipped away unknowingly. I knew the green sauce was made of cilantro and was the spicier of the two. Although I preferred the sweet dark sauce thinking it was of a plum nature.
Until...several years ago my mom loaned me The Hindi Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan. This is a story of mothers and daughters, relationships, and tradition...with recipes and food flavoring the way. Each chapter ends with a recipe that has been discussed in some form. Upon finishing the book, I photocopied every recipe and have been using them as reference for the past five years. She successfully demystifies Indian cooking and simultaneously warms the heart and the kitchen. Years later I still think about the book especially when I am on a long flight home or am cooking a big Indian meal.
My little apartment has experienced cashew butter chicken, chapatis, homemade naan and paneer, curried cauliflower, aloo gobi...just to list a few. My favorite part of cooking Indian food is the warmth and spice it adds to the room and to our spirit. There is something quite magical about the way a room transforms with the perfume of cinnamon, the dip of naan and the light of a candle. This post is also in celebration of upcoming Diwali aka 'festival of lights'. I am not of Hindu background, but from what I hear and read, it is a celebration among family and friends on the triumph of good over evil. What a great way to start the fall season but with family, friends, food and celebration.
So pull out your pots and pans and start celebrating. Or in the case of this recipe, gather up the mint and cilantro, squeeze the lime and start blending...and dip away with full knowledge of what the chutney entails. If you are wondering what the dark sweet chutney is... it is tamarind! Remind me to feature that on another occasion.
From 'The Hindi Bindi Club' book
Yields 1 cup
1 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated (or chopped)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced (use more or less as you like)
3/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp lime juice (freshly squeezed)
2 Tbsp water
Measure all ingredients into your food processor or blender. Blend until smooth (like the texture of pesto) and pour into a small serving bowl. Letting the flavors marry for at least 15 minutes is ideal before serving. But if time is ticking, it will still be a refreshing start of the meal for your guests. Dip papadams and naan or pour a little over your rice.
Posted by Alli Shircliff at 3:35 PM