Kitchen Basics : Saunth or Imli ki chutney
Some might argue on whether that Saunth or the sweet, spicy and sour Imli ki chutney is really a kitchen basic. But if one has grown up in the north of India, we will pretty much agree it is.
Whether it is the dahi bhalla or all kinds of chaat. Whether it is cutlets or samosa. Whether it is moong dal ke ladoo or golgappa, we pretty much have it with most things. It think it is honestly India's answer to the ketchup and power packed one too. This is far more tasty than any tomato ketchup. Most North Indian homes will have this chutney in a jar in the fridge to be pulled out at the last minute and served with the evening snack.
Saunth is typically made with a combination of tamarind, jaggery and spices like pepper,chilli, dry ginger and saunf. They say it gets it's name from soonth (the hindi name for dry ginger). Typically a thicker and concentrated one is made and stored and then a little boiling water along with fresh grapes (or if not in season rehydrated raisins) are added to the chutney just before serving. Some people also add pomegranate seeds.
- Throughly wash the Tamarind and soak it in 1.5 cups of water for 2 hours. After two hours, squeeze out the pulp well and drain it using a large hole colander or sieve
- In a heavy bottom pan, dry roast the cumin and saunf seeds. When mildly fragrant and slightly browned, add the tamarind pulp and bring to boil. Lower the temperature and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the grated jaggery and simmer till the sauce turns thick and starts to coat the back of the spoon.
- Add salt, red chilli powder, dry ginger powder, pepper. Mix and turn off the heat
- Store in clean, dry bottles in the fridge. Lasts for 2 months and I like to age it for atleast 2 days before eating.
Another chutney which is a basic and is found in all north indian households is the green chutney.
Here is a post which has two green chutney recipes.