Everyone has a signature dish; something that they make the best, and always turn to for a pot-luck, or when entertaining. My two ‘world famous in Surrey BC’ dishes are masoor di daal (red lentils), and a classic adrik vali chai (ginger tea). My mom has two famous dishes too; aloo de paranthe (flatbread stuffed with potatoes), and pudina imli chutney (mint and tamarind chutney).
Side note: It occurs to me as I’m writing this…maybe mom and I should open up a food truck that sells paranthe, served with a side of chutney, and a steaming hot cup of ginger tea?
While everyone loves moms paranthe, I feel like her pudina imli chutney never quite gets the spotlight it deserves – but I’m a loyal fan. Whenever I visit mom’s place (to eat obviously) I open up her fridge look in the side shelf, and shuffle around the various achar and chutney containers until I find my love; the khati-meethi (sweet and sour) green goddess that makes my mouth water; pudina imli chutney. Sometimes she’s out of that particular variety of chutney and tries to convince me that a spicy chili chutney would work, or maybe some fresh nimboo achar (lemon pickles) could take it’s place, but alas, nothing tastes like pudina imli chutney. Yes, I am that in love with this particular chutney.
Last weekend I visited my Nani’s house and my Mamiji informed me that her pudina plants had gotten out of control and were growing under the fence, and I should pick it all and take it home. I’m not one to argue with my elders (or turn down free fresh herbs), so I got to work. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and me, my mom, my great aunt who is visiting from England, and Zara all set to work picking the pudina, while my Nani who can’t come down the outside stairs any more yelled directions on how to pick the pudina properly, and how to make the chutney from the balcony.
It’s hard for me to explain the perfection of that Sunday afternoon. Four generations of women bonding over some fresh mint, a sort-of family recipe, and our combined love of food – does it get any better than that? I came home and tried my best to recreate mom’s chutney from the strange directions she gave me (a palm-full of sugar if you need it, a few squirts of lemon depending on how sour your imli is, etc.) While I’m not convinced it tastes like mom’s it’s pretty good, and I think it’s worth a try.
Pudina Imli Chutney (Mint & Tamarind Chutney)
2 cups of mint leaves washed and dried
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 – 1 green chilli (totally optional – but highly recommended)
2 tsp tamarind concentrate
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2-4 tbs water for thinning
So easy – drop everything except the water into your mixer and blend. Once everything is happy and combined add in one tbs water at a time as needed. I go for a smooth but not runny consistency for this chutney. Use your best guess on how much water to use for a texture you like – once you’ve made it a few times you’ll come up with your own signature chutney!
Also, if you add to much chilli, you can always add some extra sugar to counter the heat.
That’s it, a quick and simple chutney, and a stroll down memory lane for me. What’s your favourite family dish?
Filmi Side Note:
There is a scene in Veer Zara where Shah Rukh’s character tells Rani ‘mera sara bachpan is dabe mein bhara para hai’ (my whole childhood is captured in this box) after opening a tiffin of besan ke laddo. I was looking at this little jar this morning and thinking; maybe not my whole bachpan, but one wonderful Sunday afternoon, and many many good times with my mom are captured in this little canning jar.