Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mangoes 'n Cream or Aam ka meetha

This is a recipe from my mother in-law. It is not a fancy party recipe, but just something to serve at home after a family meal.

Mangoes are so delicious by themselves when they are in season. But what do you do if you have mangoes that are from towards the end of the season or overripe, or the mangos weren't handled well during transport/export so they will never develop their full sweetness even when ripe? What if you only have frozen or canned mangoes available in your location? This is a super simple recipe that allows you to take advantage of delicious mango flavor even though the mangoes you may have aren't in their prime state of sweetness.

Just cut about 3 mangoes (+/- 2.5 cups or so) into bite sized, mushy chunks. Mush them a bit more with the back of a spoon. Whip 1 cup of regular or double cream (!) with 1/4 cup sugar. Use just a tablespoon or so sugar for canned mangoes as these have been soaking in sugar syrup. Beat well to ensure sugar dissolves. Then stir in the mangos. Transfer to a serving dish. Chill in the fridge for a few hours, then serve. The cream will thicken very slightly and you will have a sweet and creamy mango delight! You can also do this with any other juicy pulpy suitable fruit like peach or apricot.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Roasted Garlic Chile Chutney

This chutney is caustically hot, and has all of the sweet, deep flavor of caramelized, roasted garlic! I was inspired to create this recipe by an imagined amalgamation of North African harissa and Gujarati red garlic chutney. Plus, anything with roasted garlic is just gooood.

A few words on chutney for people less familiar with South Asian cuisine:
I've come to realize that many non-desis are confused bout chutney. For example, we goras (white Euro-origin people) usually think that chutney means some sort of fruit compote. We think instantly of mango chutney when we hear the word mentioned. I suppose that this is one kind of chutney. Many goras who frequent Indo-Pak restaurants know mint chutney and tamarind chutney as the green and red sauces that come with pappadums. Those are also two types of chutney. But how does one explain what chutney actually is? Chutney can be a concoction which is served as a dipping sauce, but it is more than that. It is like Korean kimchi. You can have bites of many types of chutneys on the side of a meal, or mix it into your food to change up the flavor. Chutneys can be cooling, but often they add heat and pungency to a dish. There are wet chutneys and dry chutneys. There are chutneys made with fresh ingredients and chutneys made with cooked ingredients, and combinations of both. There are even chutneys that are powder or grain-like in texture. From Kashmir to Kerala and all in between, there are probably hundreds of thousands of types of chutneys.

For roasted garlic chile chutney:
It is meant to be eaten spooned on the side of a plate of rice and daal or rice and vegetables, or with flat bread (chapati or roti). You can have a bite of it, or in a plain home style daal, mix morsels of rice mashed with daal with a bit of this chutney while you eat. Scrumptious! Brave souls who like desi-fusion will enjoy this chutney as a spread on sandwiches.

How to roast garlic:
For this you need to roast whole peeled cloves of garlic to cook out their rawness and bring out their sweetness. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Toss 2 cups of garlic cloves (3-4 peeled heads) in a flavorless oil (like Sunflower or Canola) and a dash of salt. Lay some aluminum foil on a baking sheet, put the oiled garlic on this foil, and now roll up the foil to seal the garlic inside of it, making a rough pouch. Put this on the baking sheet into the oven for about 50 minutes. The garlic will come out browned and mushy. You can make this in advance and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to make the chutney.

About 2 cups roasted garlic cloves (your original 2 cups may shrink a bit upon roasting, that's ok)
10 dried red Indian chiles or Mexican árbol chiles
1/2 heaping cup Indian red chile powder (no joke!)
1/2 cup cumin powder
3 tbs coriander powder
1/4 or so cup mustard oil
2-3 tbs flavorless oil like sunflower or canola
3 tbs sugar, or to taste
1.5 to 2 tbs salt, or to taste (you should have a slightly overly salted result)
1/2 cup or so fresh squeezed lime juice (may need more or less depending on how sour your limes are)

Heat mustard oil in a pan. When it smokes, toss in your dried whole red chiles. Very shortly, when they color and puff up, remove them quickly from the oil (with tongs or slotted spoon) and set them aside on a paper towel to drain. In the same hot oil, add in the roasted garlic. Turn off the flame and immediately toss in the dried red chile powder, cumin, and coriander. Stir to fry it in the oil. The flame is off so as to not burn the spice powder. Allow this to cool so that you can transfer it to a blender.

When cool, scrape this into a blender. Add in your lime juice, salt, sugar, and 2-3 tbs of flavorless oil. Blend well to a thick creamy paste, pushing down what rises to the sides of the blender. Taste for salt. It should be a bit overly salted since it is not meant to be eaten on its own but with a meal containing rice or flatbread. Adjust with a bit more salt, sugar, and lime juice if necessary. Now, stir in the fried whole chiles which you have kept aside. Pulse the blender, pushing the chiles down a few times to get them to be roughly chopped into large pieces in your chutney. The large chile chunks look pretty in the paste, and taste smokey if you happen to get one in your mouth. You may have to add a dash more of your flavorless oil to help things along in the blender.

This recipe yields about 2-2.5 cups of chutney which will keep in the fridge for 4-6 weeks.

The oil, sugar, salt, and lime juice are natural preservatives for this roasted garlic and chile chutney. Transfer into a clean, dry container with a lid, and keep in the fridge to serve this hot stuff with daily meals.

This stuff is pungent, extremely piquant, and or course lip smackingly garlicky. I highly advise against kissing anyone immediately after consumption unless your co-kisser has also eaten some of this roasted garlic chile chutney, too!

Are you a chutney addict?
For a delicious Hyderbadi style tomato chutney, see here.
For a Gujarati style coriander-peanut chutney, see here.