Chutney Culture: A grandeur to any bland dish
As Indians, many of our stories and memories are built over food. India’s countless versions of chutneys are indeed the cherry on top for the best of occasions. Although chutney is usually served as a compliment on the edge of a platter, it lasts an entire meal. Isn’t this amazing! No matter what you eat, a chutney simply makes it taste better.
Chutneys are not made to chew, but to lick and fall into the volcano of delicious flavours. Some devour it with Samosas, some with Idlis and some with Rotis. Chutneys not only provide a tantalising zing to the food, but also help in the digestion of accompanying snacks or meals. Each Chutney is a reflection of the agrarian culture and the taste preferences of the region. These chutney variations might include herbs, nuts, seeds, vegetables, or fruits infused with aromatic spices to give it the perfect sweet-sour-spice balance.
A popular Chutney from Southern India – The Coconut/Nariyal Chutney is found in multiple forms. Originally made with Coconut, Chilly, Urad Dal (for crunch), Curry leaves, has variations like the Red Coconut Chutney with Red Chillis and Garlic, or the western version Green Coconut Chutney with Coriander. How you eat it, whatever you eat it with, in which ever form red, green or white, the coconut / nariyal chutney is pure magic to the tastebuds.
Another Chutney which simply reflects the spicy aspect of its people is the Kolhapuri Thecha. It comprises of nothing but pure hotness, made from Sankeshwari or Lavangi chillies, garlic and oil. We must say that it requires a lot of gumption to withstand the heat of the Kolhapuri Thecha. The Khatti Meethi Imli Chutney is just like its folks from Gujarat. Varied, colorful and full of flavours. And then there is the all-time North Indian favourite Pudina Chutney (a must in every refrigerator), a drool-worthy delicacy...mixed with ample mint leaves and spicy green chilies. The list is endless, not to forget the Kasundi from Kolkata, the Ambadi Chutney from Andhra as well. Every region has its specialty and every region has its own variation of the mangoes, the lemons or the chilly chutneys.
There are many exotic chutneys pertaining to the regions not yet as popular across the country yet. Two of such Chutneys are the tingling 'Jolphai Gur' Chutney with olives, jaggery and honey is a delicacy from the North-East India, and the Parhari Bhaag Ki Chutney from Uttarakhand, made from hemp seeds, which is undeniably the most popular chutney from the region. This delicious chutney perfect accompaniment to dal-bhaat, maduve ki roti, aloo gutka, etc. This spicy chutney is prepared in every home of Uttarakhand.
One could traverse the entire country and come up with a variety of chutney preferences. But wherever you go, chutneys will always be the little flavour bombs with any food served. Chutneys, sweet-and-sour, spicy, hot-and-sour, and hot-and-sweet, depending on the unique regional and cultural appetites, have long been an integral part of Indian culture. A relish for all!