I feel like a Chutney at this moment and hence this special post on a traditional Bengali Green Mango Chutney or Kaancha Aamer Chutney!
Well, to be honest Chutney is the only thing that can describe how I feel at this moment. My blog is being featured in this week’s FoodieBlogroll’s Featured Blogs! What does this mean to me? It means that somewhere down the blogging journey, special moments like these will add more spice, more spunk to my writing, bring in more readers. What’s the other alternative? Well, I could be standing in the highway with a poster – Buddies, Please Read My Blog! I’m trying to be different! And I’m working really hard! I might make you laugh! And occasionally I might make you think!
Just like a Chutney. It’s not a regular meal – it doesn’t fall under the category of Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner. However, you can have Chutney with anything, and at any time of the day and upgrade little simple meals to a special mini treat. Sometimes it’s spicy, sometimes it’s sweet or sour – but it does add a lot of momentary zing, suddenly and just like that!
Being featured in prominent blogging forums does bring in that random element of excitement with the anticipation of new readers and expressing my gratitude to all my existing readers. Stand by me, be with me, guide me through – and tell me what you want – I am inundated with a whole lot of mixed feelings – a strong Pickle, a tangy Dip, a sweet Chutney – all rolled into one!
But why a traditional Bengali Chutney?
In many South Asian Cuisines Chutney refers to a wide-ranging family of condiments that usually contain a whole lot of mixture of spice(s) and vegetable(s) and/or fruit(s). There are many varieties of Chutney and may refer to a dip accompanying a savoury or snack etc.
A Bengali Chutney is very different. You end your main meal with Chutney. And this Chutney is a sweet, tangy paste and can be made with every conceivable fruit and even vegetables! For example – Aam/mangoes, Jalpai/Olives, tomatoes, Anarosh/pineapple, Tetul/tamarind, Pépé/papaya and various other type of fruits. Dry fruits like Khejur/dates, Kishmish/raisins may also be added to it the Chutney which is also splashed with Phoron/Mustard seeds cooked slightly in oil or Paanch-Phoron/5 seeds cooked in oil. Papad/Big chips like flakes made up of Potatos or Dried Daal usually accompanies the Chutney.
After the Chutney comes the formal dessert tasting! And the choice in Mishti/Sweets is absolutely endless. This is a category that has catapulted Bengal into a different quotient of sweetness. Mishti Doi/ Sweet yogurt, Bhapa Doi/Steamed Yogurt, Payesh/ Sweet dessert made with rice-milk-sugar, Rôshogolla/Rasgulla, Rasamalai, Pantua, Lyancha, Chamcham, Chanar Jilipi, Rajbhog, Rasakadambo… I can go on! But you want me to stop ranting about these here, then please read about them here, my post on Bengali sweets.
So in effect, A Bengali Chutney breaks the monotony of the main meal by giving a small ‘sweet’ breather before more serious desserts come in. It is a mini sweet sign-off but harbors the hope of a new turn in the meal – the final dessert. That is exactly what being featured in the Foodie Blogroll means to me. And whenever one is happy, he/she can only run to his/her roots.
Green Mango Chutney/ Kaancha Aamer Chutney
Category – Chutney; Cuisine type – Traditional Bengali
Following are the characteristics of all recipes doling out of our little hands, big hearth -
♥ Easy to cook
♥ Regular canned products off the shelf may be used (However, we advocate using fresh products)
♥ Goes well both as a regular or party dish
♥ Children can easily help in making the dish (My two little sous-chéfs are aged 8 and 3 years!)
♥ And lastly, guaranteed to be tasty!
Unripe Green Mangoes are definitely a part and parcel of every jute bag that goes to the vegetable market in Kolkata during the summer heat. Then they turn into accessories either in Mango Lentil Soup/Aam Daal (have been penned down in this blog), or Green Mango Syrup/Aam Paana which is used to make a chilled Summer drink when diluted with water (penning this down is in the plans) or may turn into Green Mango Chutney/Kaancha Aamer Chutney. Or say the ones lying on the terraces of Kolkata homes, marinated with spices, waiting to be dried up and bottled into pickles? Which again brings me back to another favourite topic – Chads/Terraces of Kolkata! If you still haven’t seen my obsession with terraces, I insist that you peep into this…
When we were kids, we would wait for my Mum to get these green mangoes and wash them and slice the. We waited and prayed for her to keep them aside to do other things while we would steal a few slices and eat them raw with some salt sprinkled on them. As I write my jaw is locked – the sour and salty green mangoes – phew! Didn’t our Mum realise a few slices were missing? At that time we thought that we had fooled her. Only now I realise that she let it pass so that these would become sweet memories of our childhood. Writing this post brings back a whole lot of memories in my taste-buds! The green mangoes, their skins blemished with spots on the skins bring back a lot of nostalgia. Hence I am retaining the green mangoes as they are and definitely not airbrushing them, though that would make them more desirable!
For the printable recipe →
Serves 5-6 persons (maybe less if they happen to be sweet-toothed Bengalis!)
Preparation time – 50 minutes maximum (Making the Chutney – 30 minutes; making the Roasted Masala – 5 minutes; Soaking the mangoes – 15 minutes)
Green Mangoes – 5 pieces, soaked in water for long, peeled and then sliced into longitudinal pieces (4 long pieces + 1 seed from each mango). Peeling the mangoes is optional as many prefer to retain the skin as well.
Dried Red Chilli – 3 whole pieces
Brown Sugar – 1 cup
Panch Phoron*/Bengali 5-Spice Blend – 1 tsp
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Bhaja Guro Moshla/Roasted Cumin Seed (powdered) – 1 tsp
Bhaja Shukno Lonkar Guro/Roasted Dried Red Chilli (powdered) – a pinch
Salt – a pinch
White Oil/Mustard Oil – 2 tbsp
Bengali 5-Spice Blend/Panch Phoron
Panch Phoron is a very unique Bengali spice blend and consists of five spices in equal measure. The 5 spices that make up Panch Phoran are -
Kalonji /Nigella seed/Black Cumin
Radhuni – Radhuni is similar in appearance to those of Ajwain, celery, and caraway. Because of their similarity in both appearance and flavor, it is often confused or substituted with celery seed. Radhuni is often used in traditional Bengali cuisine but are rarely used in the rest of India. In absence of Radhuni, many substitute this with Rai or Shorshe/Mustard seed – the black or brown flavored one
Saunf or Mouri/Fennel seed
The above 5-Spice Blend has been taken from the pages of Bong Mom’s Cookbook.
Bhaja Guro Moshla/Roasted Spices
In a skillet or a flat bottomed frying pan, dry roast the Cumin Seeds. Constantly stir for a minute. Do make sure that the seeds are not burnt while it retains a fresh and strong aroma. Grind the roasted Cumin Seeds to a powder in a spice grinder (I use a coffee grinder) and keep in an air-tight container. This Bhaja Moshla/Roasted Masala is used to temper many Bengali (also Inidan) dishes like Raita, different types of Chutneys etc.
Dried Red Chilli can be roasted in a similar manner and then powdered and kept in air-tight container to use for tempering afterwards. NOTE: The aroma is very strong and if you are not used to making this, you might end up coughing!
Method of Preparation
- Heat the oil in a Kadai/Wok
- Add the Bengali 5-Spice Blend and Dry Red Chilli when the oil heats up (Note: This is going to really splutter so please don’t forget your shield!)
- As soon as it begins to splutter, add the Mangoes
- Add Turmeric and a pinch of Salt
- Add 1/2 lt water and boil the Mangoes in medium heat
- Add the sugar when the Mangoes have become soft and simmer for a while. While the Mangoes should become soft and boiled, they should remain pulpy. This Chutney is meant to be really sweet and syrupy , so you may have to add a bit of sugar
- Sprinkle the Chutney with Bhaja Guro Moshla – the Roasted Cumin Seeds (powdered) and a pinch of Bhaja Shukno Lonkar Guro/Roasted Dried Red Chilli (powdered)
- Serve cold, just after the main meal and before the dessert is served
Enjoy the sweet and tangy Chutney-ish photo-journey…
As I have said before, there are mini sign-offs in life’s journey. And these little moments call in for mini treats to stimulate the taste-buds, to tickle the palate just before the formal dessert is served. Just like the Green Mango Chutney. Thank YOU very much for the blog love and all your appreciation!
Unblogging it all… Ishita
All images are from my gallery IshitaPhotoIdeas – it takes a lot of effort to capture a food experience in text and pictures. While it’s meant for you to enjoy them, I request you not to use them!