Monday, February 5, 2007

Chutney and Pickle and Gujarati Karhi

All right. I made three dishes last night. (Actually, I made four... but let's not talk about the fourth one right now.)

The first was the aforementioned mango chutney. It turned out very well. The mangoes tasted a little candied at the end, although there was no sugar or anything like that involved -- just mango, fenugreek, fennel, mustard seed, cumin, cayenne, a little oil, and of course haldi. It didn't look or taste anything like the chutneys I had eaten in restaurants (those were more the consistency of salsa, and had a similar bite), but it seems like there are as many chutneys as there are fruits and vegetables to put in them. So... mango chutney = very good.

The second one I didn't exactly make myself, but I'm including it because... well, because I was so surprised. After reading Ms. Jaffrey's accounts of the heavenly taste of black lime pickle, I went to Namaste Grocery and bought myself a jar. Well, a jar of lime pickle, anyway. I don't think it was black lime pickle. In fact, it was quite red. And so I opened it up, took a spoonful, and popped it in my mouth, ready to taste heaven...

OMGWTF lime pickle. I am quite ready for someone to respond and tell me that lime pickle is only meant to be eaten a droplet at a time. I don't think I've ever had my nose, eyes, and ears run quite so much, or so quickly.

My roommate came in and asked why I was hopping around in pain. I held out the jar and offered her a taste. She looked at me and said "no fucking way -- not if it makes you do THAT."

So, to anyone reading: what am I supposed to do with this jar of Flaming Lime Pickle? I want to eat it, but I'm not sure how or with what dish.

Lastly, there was the Gujarati Karhi with Okra, which was fine but turned out very sweet (probably because it had cinnamon and sugar in it). I liked the other karhi recipe better; it tasted sour and saltier and held more of the tang of the yogurt. But the Gujarati karhi was perfectly acceptable for its purposes.

And second lastly... well, it was Round Two of Blue Vs. Chickpea Pancakes, and once again the chickpea pancakes won, if by won we mean "did not cook at all and ended up in a mushy mess in the trash can." I can't make pancakes worth a damn and yet I keep trying, if only because they taste so good.

I also got my first jar of ground asfoetida. I was a little unsure as to whether it was actually for cooking, since it looked like a small Tylenol bottle and included a childproof lid. But there was a reassuring picture on the bottle of a woman in a sari stirring a big cooking pot, and... well, I've since added it to something (did it go into the mango or the karhi?) and haven't yet become ill. So... probably on the right track.


Pickle Therapist said...

Whoa! You tried to consume a whole spoon of lime pickle at one go. *insert applause* I am in awe!

Ok, silliness aside, one spoon of pickle (lime, mango, what-have-you) would probably last thru a meal - and by meal I mean an Indian meal.

So an Indian meal typically would consist of
1) Either rice or some sort of bread (chapati/roti/naan/etc.) or some sort of staple food
2) An accompaniment of a number of curries
3) Optionally some pickles

Now the role of the pickle is to act as a jolt to the senses - sort of - to let your taste buds find their way amidst the barrage of sensory chaos that comes with consuming Indian food. And they are essentially consumed in small to very small quantities, (unless acidity/heartburn is a craving/fantasy).

I realize that I have made several culinary generalizations, which may or may not hold true. But I am sure most will agree with me that Indian pickles are not to be consumed by the bottle-fulls.

Just my $0.02

Blue said...

Pickle therapist -- thanks for the comment! I've tried the "dip the tines of the fork in pickle, then scoop up rice and saag paneer" trick, and even still the pickle seems overwhelmingly strong. Maybe I need to dip one tine of the fork instead of all four.

The real trick I want to know is how this is handled when there are no forks at all. I've gotten the knack of the "only dirty the first digit" thing, but what do I do with the pickle? Put a tiny bit of my finger into it?

And are the large slices of lime meant to be eaten, or just... observed?

sred said...

I usually eat it with rice and yougurt mainly because it is such a strong flavor. For me its kind of an end of the meal kind of thing. But everyone is different.

Blue said...

It is interesting, sred, how it doesn't work with all foods. I love my lime pickle with saag paneer, but it doesn't work with karhis... for me, anyway. Seems to be the other way around for you???

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