While the word “Chutney” is universally used, the word itself and the concept of this condiment is loaned from India. In general terms, Chutney can refer to anything from a simple relish, to pickles or even preserves and can be sweet or savory or a combination of all.
A Bengali meal is incomplete without a Chutney, which is usually fruity and sweet and sometimes a combination of tart and sweet with a hint of spicy. And the Chutney or Chaatni (as we like to say it) elegantly ends the meal. Unlike in most other states in India, Bengali Chutneys are not usually eaten along with the meal; they are almost like a dessert, satisfying the sweet craving at the end of a big meal. The people from Bengal are known to have a sweet tooth (and I would like to add, that we are truly sweet and nice too ) . And the way the Chutney is enjoyed is actually by licking your fingers clean. Yes touch the food, eat with your fingers.
A traditional Bengali Chutney is made with seasonal fruits – tomato, mango, pineapple, tamarind, raw papaya or whatever you can think of. The chutney made during the weddings are often a classic combination of Aamshotto (Ripe Mango Fruit Leather) and raisins. My ma would have a special hand painted blue bowl to serve/store the Chutneys she made. I have that now, but more as a keepsake.
However we do not need to adhere to the routine of having a Chutney only at the end of the meal, do we? I love pairing sweet and spicy Chutney with some spicy pepper jack cheese and have it on a cracker with some good wine or simply smear it indulgently on a slice of warm toasted bread. These sweet and spicy kind complements spicy grilled food too well to pass.
Notes on the recipe:
This is a traditional recipe of Pineapple (Anarosh) Chutney using Panch Phoron or the Bengali Five Spice mix. The recipe is all too simple and the chutney is seasoned twice, once at the beginning and then again at the end when cooled.
I have used fresh pineapple here, but the canned pineapples work pretty well too. If you are using canned pineapples, you the liquid instead of the water and adjust the sugar as the liquid already is sweet. You will get the best texture if you use part crushed pineapple and part diced, but there is no restriction.
The spice/heat and the sugar content is as per our taste. Feel free to adjust and fine tune to your taste and style.
The mustard oil used here; and even tho’ in a tiny quantity, this oil imparts really lovely smoky flavors along with the spices. Try not to skip the mustard oil, but if it’s not at hand, substitute with any cooking oil.
Anarosher Chutney – Indian Spiced Pineapple Chutney
- 4-5 cups pineapple, diced
- 2 tablespoons raisins (Optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure mustard oil
- 1.5 teaspoons Panch Phoron (*Note Below)
- 2-3 dried red chili pepper
- 1/3 cup sugar (or adjust to taste)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- a pinch of salt
- 2.5 tablespoon lemon juice
*panch phoron = cumin, fennel, mustard (may be substituted with radhuni/celery seeds) methi/fenugreek and nigella/kalonji/onion seeds combined – each in equal measurement.
Bhaja Moshla- For tempering after:
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 6 peppercorns
- 3 cloves
- 1/2″ stick cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
Heat a pan/pot and add the mustard oil. Let the oil get to smoking hot. Switch off the heat and let it cool down.
Switch on the heat and add the Panch Phoran and the red dry chili pepper in the oil, and fry them till they are turn a shade darker and start to get fragrant, for about a minute. Combine sugar and water. Lower the heat and pour the sugar water into the pan/pot and bring it to a boil. Add the lemon juice, salt and the ginger, diced pineapple and raisins (if you are using them) to the pan/pot and cook till the pineapples soften (they will still hold their shape) and the water gets syrupy and thick enough to coat the pineapples. This should take about 30 – 45 minutes.
Half way through cooking, lower the heat and partially cover the pan. The consistency should be like a preserve, but the diced pineapples still holding their shape. Any liquid left should be thick enough to coat a spoon.
To prepare the spices for tempering:
In a skillet, dry roast all the spices above (for tempering) except the red chili powder, till they are fragrant and a shade darker in color. It should not take more than 2 minutes. Cool and add the red chili powder to the roasted spices. Grind them to a powder in a spice or coffee grinder. This is called the Bhaja Moshla (Roasted Spices).
Add about 1 tablespoon of this ground spice to the cooled chutney and stir to combine. (If there are any leftover spice powder, store in a container in a cool place for later use).
Store the cooled chutney in a clean air tight jar/bowl in the refrigerator. It will keep for 2 weeks.
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