Chutneys are a delicious Indian condiment. The word “chutney” is actually a British term derived from the Hindi word “chatni”, meaning, “to crush”. They are very popular all over India and are quite simple to make.
Chutneys come in a wide range of bold and exciting flavors ranging from spicy to sweet, savory, tangy and even sour. They also vary in textures depending upon the ingredients used and their preparation. There are two main types of chutneys: fresh and preserved and they can either be wet or dry in nature. Regardless, fresh home made chutneys will always add an exotic Indian touch to any meal.
Roasted Eggplant Chutney is a personal favorite. It’s absolutely delicious, so simple to prepare and goes with just about anything.
ROASTED EGGPLANT CHUTNEY
1 large eggplant
1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ inch piece of ginger, peeled & finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2-3 dry red chilies, to taste
¼ cup unsalted peanuts (or almonds)
1 tbsp chana dal (split Bengal gram dal)
1 tbsp urad dal (split & skinned)
1 tsp sesame seeds
¼ tsp turmeric (haldi)
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp fenugreek seeds (methi seeds), crushed
pinch of asafetida (hing)
1-2 small green Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise (optional)
3-4 fresh curry leaves
1 tsp tamarind concentrate or tamarind powder
½ cup freshly grated coconut (frozen is fine but thaw before use)
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely minced
2-3 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola oil)
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly brush the eggplants with a little bit of oil on all sides and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 40-45 minutes, turning the eggplants after 20 minutes or so of baking until the eggplants are charred and collapsed. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool until needed. This may also be done using the oven broiler or even a grill, although the cooking times and temperatures will vary dependent upon the method used. The key is the charred flavor of the eggplant. Allow the eggplants to cool, when they are cool enough to handle - remove the outer charred skin from the eggplants and discard. In a large mixing bowl, mash the eggplants (along with any juices) well with the back of a fork. Set aside until needed.
In a large skillet, heat the oil and add the onions. Stir fry the onions on medium heat until softened & translucent. Next add the garlic, ginger, dried red chilies & peanuts. Stir fry for just a few minutes until fragrant. Now add the chana dal, urad dal & sesame seeds. Keep stirring for an additional 3-4 minutes or until the dals have turned a light brown color. At this point, add the spices (turmeric, smoked paprika, salt & pepper). Mix well to combine all of the ingredients, let cook for another 4-5 minutes and then remove the pan from the heat. Set aside to cool.
Using a blender or a food processor, add the cooled onion mixture. Also add the coconut & tamarind, blend into a coarse paste. Personally, I like a little texture in my chutney but if you prefer a smoother texture, feel free to add the mashed eggplant. Transfer to a serving bowl.
In a small skillet on high heat, add the remaining tbsp of oil. When hot, add the black mustard. Be careful as they will splatter, after 30 seconds - add the cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafetida, green chilies and curry leaves. After about 15-20 seconds, pour the hot oil mixture over the eggplant chutney & garnish with freshly chopped cilantro. Serve as a condiment or dip with your favorite dishes. This delicious chutney goes well with most anything!