Garlic Chutney - keeping the chills and home-sickness at bay
As I mentioned in a previous post, Laxman makes one of my MOST favourite things to eat -- garlic chutney. There are many variations of garlic chutney across regions and cuisines. This one below is a pretty typical Rajasthani version, adapted towards my preference for extremely high spice levels and preference against actual pieces of garlic. Smooth, spicy, packing a punch and making any thing (even slices of Wonder bread!) interesting. Also, depending on how much you spice it up it can really keep the chills away! Plus it stays in the fridge FOREVER.....so make a huge batch once and enjoy for months.
Its a pretty long-ish post for a pretty simple thing. But its quite easy to go wrong with this (pro'lly cos you didnt listen to Laxman or thought yourself too clever) and I have learnt from many mishaps. Hope I can save you some of them.
Garlic pods 2-3 cups (!!), pealed
Green chille 3-4 (optional, but Laxman uses it to bump up the spice level so that you dont have to use too much red chille powder)
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Red Chile powder 4-5 tsp (or to your taste)
Water 2-3 cups water.
Oil 4-5 table spoons (yes, its a lot)
1. Grind the garlic and green chille to a smooth paste. The definition of 'smooth' is really yours. I prefer mine without any solid garlic pieces. You can add water to ease the grinding process.
2. Start heating the oil on medium heat. In the meantime, take the garlic-green chile paste and mix with the red chile powder and salt. Add water.
Note: since you may have added water during grinding, but dont worry too much about the quantity. The consistency should be like dosa batter.
3. The oil must be heating up now. Add the cumin seeds. Once they sputter, SLOWLY add the mixture. The SLOW is essential since we are adding a lot of water to a lot of hot oil......so there is going to be spattering!
FAQ: So whats up with the quantity of oil?
Ans: Good question. You NEED it. Skimp...and regret. But here's a trick that Laxman taught me. After a 20-25 minutes cooking time, there will be a thick layer of oil over the chutney. You can leave it there (for maximum flavour) or skoop it out and use it for tempering for dal or veggies. Basically, the oil is garlic-chile infused oil and packs a HUGE flavor punch which can be used for anything....even for dipping bread in.
4. Cook on low flame for ...............20-25 minutes! Yes, it takes that long to cook. Basically, the combination of water and oil will gently cook the garlic and this needs to go on till ALL the water (from the garlic as well as the extra water we added) evaporates.
FAQ: Can we skimp on the time needed? Can we not add so much water when making a paste so that we dont have to cook the mixture for so long???
Ans: Absolutely NOT. Yours truly thought herself very clever and tried doing that a few years ago and ended up with raw garlic goop........and nearly got booted out by room mates 'cos of the smell. You need both the quantities of water and oil for the mixture to cook thouroughly and to have a wonder, coooked-garlic aroma waft through your home.
After about 15 minutes, the mixture will look like..................the picture at the top of the post. As you can see the water is almost evaporated and everything is starting to look (and smell) cooked. But dont give up.......Let things go for another 10-15 minutes on low flame.
Unfortunately, I dont have a pic of the final product - I ate it all!
FAQ: How to eat?
Ans: My favourtite method is to put one big heaping tablespoon in to one bowl of yogurt, swirl and eat with hot, steaming rice. But can and should be eaten with roti's, dosas (out of the world) or on slices on bread (very convenient and the best sandwich ever).