As you may gather from posts to come, or if you know me at all well, you may know that I love Indian food.
I think part of the reason is their use of chillies. My mum is allergic, so naturally, I love them. Also, the Indian subcontinent has a deeply developed vegetarian cuisine given its huge vegetarian population (because of religious principles) so the options for a non meat-eater are rich and varied.
You get the gist. I like Indian food. Which brings me to today's recipe; what is great to have on the side of all Indian food? Chutney. More specifically, peanut chutney.
The word 'chutney' comes from the Sanskrit word 'caṭnī' meaning 'to lick'.
The Indians are famous for their chutneys but in my opinion this is a real star. You'll see a lot of recipes for peanut chutney using only peanuts, but I like the roundness of flavour the cashews bring to the party. The nuts are first toasted to bring out their flavour and then an oniony-garlicky-ginger mix is sautéed as the base. Tamarind paste is added to enhance that tangy element - it's also a natural preservative so your chutney will last for weeks in the fridge. For heat I have included chili powder, rather than fresh, just because it's easier to quantify how much heat you're adding.
Unlike a lot of shop-bought chutneys, here you incorporate a traditional Indian technique called a 'tarka'. Once the main blend is made, whole spices and seeds are crisped in oil and stirred in to the chutney. Here, I have used cumin and black mustard seeds. They become crunchy, aromatic and delicious and give a contrasting texture to the chutney. I've even seen recipes that used whole dried lentils in the tarka - they were a little too crunchy for my liking.
Is this the kind of thing that will languish in the fridge, barely used then forgotten? Well, the chutney gets gobbled up in my house mainly as a condiment: on crackers and apples, with breadsticks - anything dippable really. And of course it's delicious with chapatis and poppadums. So it shouldn't do.
Peanut & Cashew Chutney
Makes 2 jars
|55g||unsalted, unroasted peanuts|
|½||large onion, finely chopped|
|½||inch ginger, finely choppped/minced|
|2||cloves garlic, finely chopped/minced|
|15||fresh (or frozen) curry leaves|
|5||tsp caster sugar|
|2||tsp tamarind paste|
|½||tbsp chilli powder|
|1||tsp black mustard seeds|
|½||tsp cumin seeds|
- In a large frying pan, toast the peanuts and cashews over a medium heat. Move them around until they are browned all over. Remove and set aside.
- Still over a medium heat, add the oil to the pan. Let it heat up, then add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Now add the ginger, garlic and curry leaves. Cook 5 minutes.
- Add the salt, sugar, tamarind and chilli powder. Cook 2 minutes.
- Tip everything into a blender (or into a bowl and use a stick blender) and add the water. Blitz until smooth but with some texture remaining.
- Heat 1½ tbsp oil over a high heat. Add the mustard and cumin seeds. Remove from the heat when the mustard seeds begin to pop.
- Decant the blended chutney into ramekins. Pour the oil and seed mixture (the tarka) over the top of the chutney. Serve on the side of any Indian dish (or anything else you fancy it with). Store in the fridge.