When my great grandmother passed away and the family started sorting her things, they found a great deal of writing—diaries full of the family’s history recorded in her factual manner with her reflection on the events, letters she addressed to her daughters but never posted (some written before the daughters were born!), verses she composed in adoration of her husband or Ovi(s)—traditional Marathi couplets that women sang as they went about their kitchen duties—that she dedicated to her children, and so on. There was such a wealth of archival knowledge in those endless journals that the family decided to collate it and preserve it for posterity. Thus was born Sanchit. Sanchit means “inheritance” or “legacy” but beyond the material. It is a record of our family’s history; its ups and downs, its pride and happiness.
This recipe, a family staple, does not feature in Sanchit, although I often think that it should have been. (Then again, my great grandmother’s recipes will make an entire book by themselves.) It is one of those priceless maternal inheritances that flow seamlessly from one generation to the next. Chutney pudi (well, our version, at least) has always played the rite of passage to adult chutneys. As kids, (heck, even now), when my brother and I pestered our mother or grandmother for a between-meal snack, were handed a hot poli (chapatti) roll, soft and multilayered, slathered liberally with melting homemade ghee and sprinkled with Chutney Pudi. The chutney makes its appearance with the usual suspects, too—idli, appe, dosa, amboli—with a side of freshly made unsalted butter, it is a match made in heaven, clichés notwithstanding. I also like it particularly when sprinkled over slices of buttered (salted, here) soft white bread. The nutty, spicy-sweet savoriness of the chutney with a frequent curry leaf accent takes plain old bread-butter to a complex gastronomic level that one can’t even resort to “umami” to describe!
All of India makes a thousand different chutneys—the dried kind make for an altogether separate category with the states of southern India and Maharashtra emerging the clear winners. Chutneys are made using seeds—sesame, niger, flax, nuts—peanut, cashew, coconut, vegetable peels—bitter gourd, bottle gourd, sponge gourd, a variety of chilies, herbs—curry leaf, coriander, dill, souring agents—tamarind and kokum, lentils of all manner, and what have you. As an adult, I like them all; I particularly enjoy the Molagapodi with a dash of Gingelly oil or ghee or coconut oil with my idlis or a sesame and tamarind one with my rice and ghee. But this Chutney Pudi—this one, I love. Genetic science is suddenly making sense to me now as I see Avanee, Abheer and Ayaan (aged almost 6 years and 15 months respectively) chomp down their food with this chutney. Avanee starts getting uncomfortable when she sees the level in the dabba dipping and promptly asks my mom to make some. So there.
- 1 cup grated dried coconut
- 2 cups roasted Bengal gram
- ¼ cup fresh curry leaves
- 2 tablespoons chili flakes
- ½ teaspoon asafetida
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1 and ½ teaspoons salt
- Dry roast the grated coconut and the Bengal gram separately in a pan until slightly browned. Remove.
- In the same pan, slowly dry roast the curry leaves until they are crisp (or do this in an oven on low).
- Place all the ingredients together in a blender and blend to a fine powder.
- Store in an airtight jar.
Note: This chutney is spicy-sweet-nutty; reduce the sugar if you’d like, but then it would be an entirely different chutney!