The first time I heard the word ‘thecha’ was from my dear friend Manisha who is from Nagpur and is an awesome cook. Her authentic Maharashtrian dishes are all fiery and simply spectacular just like her 🙂 I like to call her a Pataka….a firecracker! Lovingly, of course 🙂
Thecha is Marathi for ‘smashed or pounded’.And in Maharashtrian cuisine, it refers to a spicy relish/chutney made with chillies and garlic mainly along with some other ingredients. For example, there is red chili thecha and green chili thecha. Peanuts are also added sometimes. Having made so many different kinds of chutneys over the years, I appreciate the good old pounding method. As Manisha says, for some reason, a thecha won’t be a thecha if you make it in a food processor. The pounding works to release all flavors in a way that a food processor is unable to. And the consistency of the chutney – the coarse texture can only be achieved by pounding. So you absolutely need to bring out your mortar and pestle for this one. Or at least use a chopper so that you get a coarse consistency.
Now that I am following a diet restricting all sour foods, I yearn for my ‘pickle’ jar during meals. That’s when I thought of Manisha’s thecha. I needed something to spice up my meals even if I couldn’t eat any pickles or sour chutneys. And Manisha, the kind soul that she is, was quick to share her recipe. Oh the joys of ‘whatsapping’! She uses lime juice too in the end to kick it up a notch further but for me this was perfect even without the lime.
Mind you, this is one fiery chutney…definitely not for the ‘faint hearted’. Actually, ‘thechas’ are meant as a relish and just a tiny bit in your tongue can get your tastebuds to go on a mad frenzy! The pleasure is so intense that you could also sob. yeah…this one can bring tears! So here is the recipe – Try it at your own risk! Keep a glass of cool milk or yoghurt by your side!
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves, washed and pat dried
about 1/4 tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp olive oil or peanut oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of hing (asafoetida)
In a frying pan add the oil and when hot add the green chillies, garlic and the jeera. Roast on medium flame for 2-3 minutes. Turn heat off and transfer the mixture to a mortar and pestle. Add the cilantro leaves. Pound with pestle until you get a coarsely ground mixture. Add the salt and mix. Transfer to a serving bowl/container.
In a small tadka pan, add the oil and then add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the hing powder and turn heat off. Pour this oil mixture over the pounded chutney.
Serve with chapatis/bhakris /dosas or rice and daal.
I had been meaning to make peanut chutney for the longest time now. A co-worke had brought this ‘lip smacking’ peanut chutney into work one day and ever since I had been pestering him to get the recipe from his wife. He did oblige shortly (or rather his sweet wife did) and then somehow between this and that, I never got a chance to making it. Then as it so happened I saw the recipe for a curry leaves chutney in a Facebook group which I was attracted to instantly too. So finally the last time I made idlis, I decided to mix up the two and make this fabulous chutney with the two awesome ingredients – peanuts for the nutty smooth taste and fresh curry leaves in a good proportion to give it a really lovely and healthy dose of flavor! Needless to say, this chutney went fabulously with the idlis. But I continued relishing it for the next day or two as an accompaniment to rice also. I have a feeling this will go well with pretty much anything – tortilla chips,pita chips, toast etc etc. Without further ado, here is the recipe. Enjoy!
20-25 fresh curry leaves, washed and dried, stems removed
2 dry red chillies (or per your taste)
1/2 cup warm water
Tiny piece of tamarind(seed removed) or 1 tsp of Lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
In a frying pan, sauté the curry leaves and the garlic on low heat for about 2-3 minutes till they turn crispy. In the same pan add the dry red chillies and roast for about 1 minute till you get the roasting smell. Transfer the curry leaves,garlic and red chillies to a food processor and add the peanuts, chana dal, onions, tamarind piece (if adding) or lime juice and salt. Add the warm water and grind to a fine paste.
Transfer to a serving bowl.
In a small tadka pan, heat the oil and when hot add the mustard seeds. when they splutter, turn heat to low and add the curry leaves. turn heat off. Pour this oil garnish over the chutney.
A Kerala sadya (feast) is not complete without the ‘Inji Pulli’ (also called Pulli Inji) which is a sweet,sour and hot chutney made using fresh grated ginger,tamarind,j aggery and chillies. Just the mention of the ingredients makes your mouth water, right? Yum. This chutney actually is very beneficial to the digestive process and enables you to finish the sadya without feeling stuffed and bloated 🙂
This dish along with some other pickles etc are made usually a day or so in advance of the actual sadya since it stores well. In fact you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. When we have our friends over for our Onam sadya, this chutney is in much demand and any leftover chutney is snatched by them. 🙂 And many have asked me for the recipe.
So here I am finally posting it. My version of this recipe is a slightly easier version than the traditional version which requires frying and then grinding the ginger first and then cooking it for a longer period of time to really get a thick chutney. My easy version skips some steps but believe me you still end up with a finger-licking chutney/pickle. This is a great accompaniment/side dish with paranthas and or just with some dal and rice.
The color of the chutney will vary from light brown to dark brown depending upon the color of the jaggery and the tamarind. Here I used a light brown jaggery hence the light brown color of the chutney.
I am sharing this tantalizing, rejuvenating and lip-smacking ginger chutney to Fiesta friday this week.
Golf size ball tamarind soaked in 1/2 cup warm water( or about 2 tbsp store bought tamarind pulp)
1 tbsp jaggery shredded or cut into small pieces
Grate the ginger using a grater and keep aside.
Heat a medium size wok style pan (Kadhai). Add the coconut oil and add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start spluttering, lower heat to medium and then add the ginger and the green chillies and the curry leaves. Saute the ginger,chillies and the curry leaves for about 3-4 mins. Add all the spices and the salt and stir for another 1 minute. Add the water. Cover and cook for about 10 mins on low heat.
From the soaked tamarind, take only the pulp out and filter out seeds and the flesh. Add this tamarind pulp and the jaggery into the ginger mixture. Continue to cook on low heat for another 7- 10 mins stirring frequently until you get a thick pasty consistency.
Let cool and transfer to a tight fitting container. This chutney can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week.
It is Monday night and I am just about to type my post that I meant to post last Friday. Where did my weekend go? I am increasingly feeling that a 2 day weekend is not sufficient. Especially when the weather is so great outside. When you have so much to do! Soccer games to watch, recitals to attend, graduation parties to go to and plants to tend to! Of course, the usual chores are waiting for you as well – the laundry, the grocery shopping etc etc. …the list never ends. I need a 3 day weekend – yes that’s what I need! And then I need a long vacation. And then I want to retire! Now wouldn’t that be nice? I could blog all day and night long! Anyways back to reality and back to this post….Because of my busy work schedule, I am always looking for easy dinner options for our crazy weeknights. One option that is our family favorite and staple is dal (lentil soup), rice and pan fried fish. Start by getting the rice( parboiled) cooking in a huge pot of boiling water. Drain reserving the stock which is called konjee – my husband’s favorite drink in the world! The konjee is best when you use parboiled rice. Once in a while when there is no fish available in my freezer, then I pull out my secret ingredient from the pantry – dried shrimp! I know some of you will find this gross but those of us who have eaten dried shrimp before will know how tasty it can be. In kerala it is common especially in the coastal areas where shrimp is in abundance to get ‘dried shrimp’. I am not very familiar with the process of making dried shrimp but I believe it involves drying the shrimp in the sun for several hours each day for several days. In the US, you can find dried shrimp in Chinese/Asian supermarkets. Dried Shrimp can be just pan fried with some red chili powder and salt and coconut oil. However I love it best as dry chutney powder – by mixing it with grated coconut and dry red chillies! Oh so yum! Just give me dal, rice and this chutney any day and I am a happy girl! 🙂 My husband just loves to have this chutney as a condiment with his rice konjee. This chutney is indeed so tasty that just a tiny bit of it goes a long way! My dad used to tell us a funny story about how a vegetarian brahmin chef’s secret to making incredibly tasty vegetarian dishes had to do with him sprinkling this shrimp chutney into the dishes! LOL! I don’t mean to offend the vegetarians but just had to share this amusing story! I am bringing this shrimp chutney powder to Angie’s Fiesta Friday where I am so late this week. But better late than never!
1 cup dried shrimp (rinsed throughly and drained well)
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut (or fresh frozen coconut that has been thawed)
1 large dry red chili (or 1 tsp red chili powder)
2-3 fresh curry leaves
1/4 tsp salt or as needed
Method: Take a large frying pan and heat the coconut oil in it. Add the shrimp and sauté for about 8-10 minutes on low to medium heat stirring constantly to prevent overheating/burning. When the shrimp turn crispy and toasty, add the curry leaves and dry chili (or chili powder) and sauté for 1 more minute. Place this shrimp and chili mixture in a food processor or a chopper and pulse for a few seconds until the shrimp turns into a coarse powder. Add the grated coconut and process for 30 more seconds or so until the coconut is well blended with the shrimp. Add salt as needed. Notes:
It is best to use a chopper for making this chutney since the ideal texture for this chutney is to have it coarsely ground and not too fine.
You need to wash the shrimp thoroughly because it may have sand and or other dirt/grime. After rinsing thoroughly make sure you drain it well and dab with paper towels before sautéing in oil.
The dried shrimp already contains salt hence reserve adding salt until the end so you can add as needed.
Green Mangoes! Just the thought of them makes my mouth water! In India, early in spring these green ones are so tart that a tiny bite makes your whole face pucker! Dip those tiny pieces in some salt and chili powder and you will keep wanting to take those bites again and again! My mom used to make this awesome chutney with green mangoes that would be the perfect condiment to plain rice and daal or moru kootan. This past weekend was her passing away anniversary and so as I have been doing every year on this day since her passing, we went to the temple and then later I made a couple of her trademark simple dishes. This year I made shrimp masala curry, lentils with coconut milk, mixed vegetable sabzi and this green chutney to eat with white parboiled rice. As we sat down to eat the meal, I shared stories from my childhood about how we three sisters used to love eating the green mangoes and this chutney. The kids laughed probably just amused by thinking of me and their aunts in pigtails and frocks! My son loved the shrimp curry even though it was spicy and even my daughter finished everything on her plate yet my eyes were moist at the end of the meal. After my marriage I tried making this chutney many times but it didn’t come out right at all. It wasn’t like my mama’s chammandhi at all.! For one, the green mango I bought here in the US was not that tart at all and so consequently the proportion of mango to coconut that I used was all off. When my parents visited me for the first time here, my mom was still able to do her magic and get the same taste using the green mangoes we got here.! She just altered the proportion a bit to use more of the mango than the coconut and I was able to taste her finger licking, lip smacking mango chutney once again!
So here’s her recipe. I am bringing this to Fiesta Friday this week.
Green Mango and Coconut Chutney (Manga Chammandhi)
1 dry red chili or 1/2 tsp red chili powder(use 2 chillies or 1 tsp red chili powder for extra spicy)
2-3 pearl onions or 1/4 of a small red onion
2 tbsp freshly grated coconut (or fresh frozen coconut that has been thawed to room temp)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
3-4 fresh Curry leaves
Peel the green mango and cut into small thin pieces. (size doesn’t matter since they will go into the food processor).
Place the green mango slices and the red chili, onions and grind in a food processor for about 1minute until all the mango is pulpy. Then add the coconut and the water and salt and grind again for another minute until you get a fine paste.
Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl.
In a small pan (tadka pan), heat the coconut oil and then add mustard seeds and turn heat to low. Once the mustard seeds start spluttering, add the fresh curry leaves and turn the heat off. Pour this oil mixture on top of the chutney and stir lightly.
If the green mango you are using is very sour (tart), use 3/4 cup mango pieces.
You can also replace the red chili with one or two green chillies