Chutney is hot - and cool

September 13, 1998|By Annette Gooch | Annette Gooch,UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE

Like Mexican salsa, Indian chutney has become a global condiment. In the United States and United Kingdom, chutneys tend to be thought of as thick, sweet-sour preserves to eat with baked ham or roast pork. But there's another side to chutney.

In India, chutneys are prepared fresh daily. Made from a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and herbs combined with chilies and spices, these fresh chutneys can be intensely hot and spicy. They are eaten sparingly throughout the meal to add flavor, stimulate appetite and promote digestion. Often a scant teaspoon is sufficient.

Milder versions make lively relishes for grilled fish, shellfish, chicken, pork or vegetables, as well as rice dishes and sandwiches. These short-lived condiments taste best when consumed within a day or two of their preparation.

Decidedly spicy yet cooling, this variation on fresh Indian chutney complements poached prawns, grilled salmon or baked fish. Made with mint, it is excellent with lamb.

Cole Publishing Group

Red Pepper-Cucumber Chutney

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 pounds cucumbers, preferably English or Japanese

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 large red bell pepper, halved, seeded and minced

2 tablespoons minced shallot

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar (optional)

sugar and salt to taste

1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves (fresh coriander), dill or mint

Peel cucumbers if they are not the thin-skinned English or Japanese varieties. Halve and seed them, then chop fine. Sprinkle with salt; transfer to a colander and let drain 45 minutes.

Transfer cucumbers to nonreactive bowl. Add bell pepper, shallot, garlic, pepper flakes, lime juice and olive oil. Stir to blend. Taste; add vinegar if mixture needs more punch. Add sugar and salt to taste. Cover and let stand in a cool place for 1 hour before serving. Just before serving, stir in minced cilantro.

Pub Date: 9/13/98

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