Most common chutneys in the south of India are made with fresh grated coconuts, sesame seeds, groundnuts, Bengal gram dhal, coriander and mint. If you want to make them more exotic, throw in some smoked eggplants, raw green tomatoes, drumstick or moringa leaves, orange peels, pineapple and anything else that tickles your taste buds!
I travel extensively to remote south Indian villages for my food and travel show to research and understand the origin of south Indian cuisine. On those trips, I make sure to visit hawkers and roadside shacks to sample their fluffy, soft idlies and the wide array of chutneys they serve it with. What I noticed was that a simple tomato chutney changes it’s avatar every 50-100 kilometres due to communal influences, availability of indigenous ingredients, and the various conquests that the region has seen.
While one often equates south Indian food to idly, vadai, dosai and Chettinad food, not much is known about other parts of Tamilnadu. Take the case of the district Virudhunagar – its cuisine is unique for it uses plenty of peanuts in the curries, rice and chutneys. Historically, peanuts were/are sent from Gujarat to parts of Virudhunagar to dry in their barren lands. The locals then started extracting oil from them, used them in their food and even today use peanut shells as fuel for their cooking stove instead of firewood.
Here is one such recipe I gathered from a local during my food escapades.
Virudhunagar Kadalai (peanut) Chutney:
Ingredients – (A)
- Tomatoes – 2 nos
- Onions – 2 nos
- Green chilly – 2 nos
- Ginger – 2-inch piece
- Peanuts – 2 tbsp
- Water – 1 cup
- Salt – to taste
- Oil – 2 tbsp (sesame or peanut oil)
- Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- Red chillies – 2
- Curry leaves – 10 nos
- Hing – a pinch
- Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
- Red chilly powder – 1 tsp
- Coriander powder – 3 tbsp
- Roasted and coarsely crushed peanuts – 2 tbsp
- Curry leaves – 2/3
- Grind all ingredients mentioned under Ingredients – (A) to a fine puree.
- Heat oil in a wok/kadai. Once hot and not smoking, add mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add asafoetida, red chillies, and curry leaves.
- Pour the puree into the oil. Add salt and mix together.
- Add all the masala powders and keep stirring. If too thick, add some water.
- Cook till the raw smell of the onion / tomato fades away and oil separates on the sides of the wok.
- Switch off stove and garnish with curry leaves, coarsely crushed, roasted peanuts and a drizzle of peanut or sesame oil.
- This Chutney can be served thick or can be watered down based on your taste.
- If served thin, this can be served with aapams, rice and idiappams.
- If served thick, it goes well with idlies, dosais, Oothapams and Adais
- The garnish of coarsely crushed, roasted peanuts gives it that extra crunch while savouring this chutney
- The predominant flavour in this chutney is that of coriander powder.
This is a special post for #chutneyday2017