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Friday, May 27, 2022

The Back Burner: Two easy green chilli chutneys

These chutneys are hot, delicious and very versatile.

Written by Pooja Pillai | New Delhi |
June 25, 2020 7:10:12 pm
green chillies, green cgillies chutney, chutney recipes, easy recipes, indian express lifestyle, the back burner Too many old and wrinkled green chillies to throw away. (Photo: Pooja Pillai)

What do you do with a whole bunch of green chillies, all of them wilting and wrinkling because you don’t really use so many when you cook, but the vegetable vendor insists on stuffing your bags with them anyway? When I was putting away my latest produce purchases in the fridge, I had to decide what to do with the old lot of chillies, most of which were still green and usable, even if shrivelled and ugly. I certainly didn’t want to throw them all out. So I did what cooks all over the world have done since time immemorial when there’s a surfeit of a particular kind of food: I made condiments.

To be precise, I made two different kinds of chutneys with the green chillies, which makes perfect sense because chutneys are incredibly versatile flavour-bombs that go with literally anything from dosas and idlis to dal-chawal and roti-subzi. Meat and fish can be marinated in chutneys and they are great dips for chips. Try one or try both: these are quick recipes and you’re bound to love the results

Rajkot-style Green Chilli Chutney

Like with so many utterly delicious preparations, this “leeli” (green) chutney deserves far more acclaim than it has right now. Still, it has a fairly stalwart reputation in Gujarat and an almost cult-like following in Rajkot where it is most often paired with lattice potato chips. I had my chutney with regular potato chips because I didn’t have the lattice variety (which is so much better).

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green chillies, green chillies chutney, chutney recipes, easy recipes, indian express lifestyle, the back burner Rajkot’s famous green chilli chutney is usually paired with lattice potato chips, but regular potato chips will do just fine. (Photo: Pooja Pillai)


½ – Green chillies, roughly chopped
½ cup – Lightly roasted peanuts
A pinch of turmeric powder
Juice from half a lime or a pinch of citric acid powder
Salt, to taste


*Grind all the ingredients together in the chutney jar of your mixer-grinder. Try not to add water as moisture will reduce the shelf-life of the chutney, but if you have to, add bit-by-bit. The tighter the consistency of the chutney, the better.

*Store in the fridge and use within a week.

*This chutney is supposed to be very, very hot, so find the hottest chillies you can and whenever you want to eat it, take a bit and dilute it with some water.

ALSO READ | The Back Burner: Make this delicious coconut chutney powder from Kerala

Green Chilli Thokku

This chutney packs a two-in-one punch of extreme heat and mouth puckering sourness. It’s been one of my favourite chutneys since I was a child, eating vast quantities of it and invariably upsetting my tummy. As far as I can remember, the only time I didn’t have too much of this chutney was when my mother made a batch using Kerala’s infamously hot kanthari mulaku. Even the cast iron stomach that I had at that age couldn’t take it.

Today, I make variations of this chutney (adding garlic sometimes and fried urad dal at other times), depending on my mood and, in my opinion, it goes best with dosas.

green chillies, green chillies chutney, chutney recipes, easy recipes, indian express lifestyle, the back burner Green Chilli Thokku goes very well with fresh, hot dosas. (Photo: Pooja Pillai)


½ cup – Green chillies, roughly chopped
1 tbsp – Tamarind paste
½ tsp – Fenugreek seed powder
½ tsp – Mustard seeds
2 tbsp – Coconut oil (if you don’t have this, use any neutral oil)
A pinch of asafoetida
A pinch of turmeric powder
½ tbsp – Jaggery (optional)
Salt, to taste

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*Fry green chillies in coconut oil till they are blistered, but not burnt.

*While you let the chillies cool to room temperature, use the same oil to pop mustard seeds. Once they start to crackle, quickly add the asafoetida and turmeric powder and turn off the flame.

*Once this tempering, too, has cooled, put it (with the oil) into the chutney jar of your mixer-grinder, along with the fried chillies, fenugreek seed powder, tamarind paste, jaggery (if using) and salt. Grind to a smooth paste, adding very little water.

*Store in the fridge and use within a week.

[The Back Burner is a biweekly blog that will talk about all things food (with recipes, of course)]

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