I did the Hot Sweet Date-Onion Chutney and the Fresh Coriander-Peanut Chutney, both from page 28, and then the Mint Sambol from page 32.
The chutneys were lovely, and I can see the date chutney becoming a favourite. It is indeed sweet, and it has a lovely hot kick that's not painful; very pleasant. The cooked onions give the whole thing a very roasty, tasty flavour, cooked as they were in sesame oil. I was a bit concerned that the sesame oil might be too strongly flavoured, but I think it was perfect. Given the few ingredients and the simplicity of it, I'm really impressed with the complexity of the flavours. Makes a nice dip, and I think would also be really good with samosas or veggie pakora.
The cilantro chutney was really nice paired with the curry because it has a very fresh, tangy zip that cuts through the richness and spice of a curry. We couldn't find cayennes or serranos, so we made it with jalapenos. It worked out fine, but I'd definitely be interested in testing out other types of peppers in that recipe.
And then there was the mint sambol. I did this is with the mortar and pestle, which in itself is a fair bit of work. Which would have been fine if it had turned out.
I don't know what I did. I thought I'd followed the recipe (except for the hot pepper types, again) but the resulting dish was so unbelievably salty it was inedible. I don't know if I didn't have enough mint, or enough lime juice, or if the difference in the pepper types would have solved the problem, but fishy and I each tasted it (him despite my dire warnings that his arteries would immediately solidify into solid columns of salt) and then we threw out the rest. I really liked the idea of the mint sambol, so it was definitely disappointing. And unpleasant.
However, I'm certainly going to keep trying recipes from this book. There's another sambol mentioned, spicy and sweet, that I might attempt next, keeping a close eye on the amount of salt I use, of course.
Hot Sweet Date-Onion Chutney
pg. 28 of Mangoes and Curry Leaves by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
- 3 dried red chiles, stemmed
- 2 tablespoons raw sesame oil, or vegetable oil, or ghee
- 1 large white onion (about 1/2 pound), coarsely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
"Drain the chiles, place them in a food processor, add the chopped dates, and process for 30 seconds to finely chop. Add the onion mixture and process for about 15 seconds to chop and blend the ingredients. Alternatively, place the drained chiles on a flaat stone mortar and grind to a paste with the pestle, add the dates and grind, and finally, add the cooked onion mixture and coarsely grind, leaving some small chunks.
"Taste the chutney for salt, and adjust if necessary. Serve in a condiment dish. (Store leftovers in a well-sealed glass jar in the refridgerator for up to several weeks). Makes 1 cup; serves 6."
For more recipes and commentary on the above recipe (or to see the Glossary) please check out the cookbook! Especially recommended for food culture junkies and food p**n addicts like me.