The whole point of a chutney is to pack a considerable wallop in just a tiny dab, and few chutneys make this point quite as well as Andhra-style ginger chutney. It livens up the blandest of foods (yes, yes, even idlis) and it’s not just because of the eye-watering heat of the ginger itself. If that was all, then this wouldn’t be a particularly enjoyable – or even edible – chutney. What makes it truly great is how well sour tamarind and sweet jaggery are used to round off (just enough) ginger’s sharpness. In that, it is very similar to the Malayali sadhya essential known as puli inji.
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Fresh ginger, peeled and chopped – ¼ cup
Tamarind – 1 lime-sized ball
Coconut or any neutral-tasting oil – 2 tbsp
Chana dal – 1 tsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds – ¼ tsp
Dried red chillies – 3-4
Curry leaves – 1 sprigs
Jaggery, powdered or grated – 2 tbsp
Salt, to taste
Soak the tamarind in ¼th cup of hot water and set it aside to cool.
Heat 1 and ½ tbsp of oil in a heavy-bottomed wok or frying pan, and add the dals. Once they start to change colour, throw in the fenugreek seeds, and ½ tsp of mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds pop, add the chopped ginger, dried red chillies, and all, except 4-5, curry leaves. Fry on low flame till the raw smell of ginger goes away, then switch off the heat and allow the ginger to cool.
Once the contents of the wok/frying pan have cooled, tip them all into the chutney grinder, along with the tamarind water (having squeezed out the pulp and thrown away the pith and seeds) and salt. Add 1 tbsp of jaggery as well, and grind everything to a paste. Taste it and add more salt and the rest of the jaggery, if required.
Once the paste is ready, temper it with ½ tsp mustard seeds and the remaining curry leaves in ½ tbsp of oil.
This chutney goes very well with idlis and dosas. You can also have it on the side with rice.
[The Back Burner is a weekly blog that will talk about all things food (with recipes, of course)]
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