Did you know that we didn’t have chillies in India up until 17th century? Yeah, imagine all the food that we eat minus the heat. The Portuguese brought it with them to Goa and introduced Indians to these bright hot peppers. Chillies are an integral part of our cooking now and India is one of the biggest cultivators and exporters of chillies in the world. One of the most deadly varieties of chillies – bhut jolokia – is grown in our country. I accidentally ate a spoonful of it at Gitika Saikia’s Assamese pop-up; we almost had to call the fire brigade, trust me.
This recipe that I’ve posted here is a part of #SeedTheRiseChallenge – a fundraising initiative by Mahindra and Mahindra to improve the lives of the farmers. The campaign is looking to raise Rs. 2 crores in public donations. What’s more – each donation will be matched by Mahindra to double the benefit for the farmers. All funds collected will go towards supporting 5 key NGO run projects that strategically aim at bettering the farmers’ lives in varied ways including setting up drip irrigation, sustainable farming units and educating the girl child. Check out their website to know more about this campaign: http://bit.ly/1ROiYCC
So coming back to my recipe for #SeedTheRiseChallenge, the ingredient in hand was obviously chillies; something I am not too comfortable cooking with. One, I am not too fond of spicy food and two, if you’re not careful while chopping chillies you’ll end up with your hands on fire. Anyhow, I had to cook so I as usual fell back on one of the recipes mastered by my mother. She actually learnt it on Sanjeev Kapoor’s show Khana Khazana. He had cooked it for the celebrity guest Javed Akhtar. Sanjeev Kapoor called it Chilli Chataka and the name is quite apt. Mother still can’t forget Mr Akhtar’s mouth watering, thanks to the lovely aroma. So she makes it quite often now and almost everyone in the family is a fan.
Green Chillies – 1 cup
Synthetic Vinegar or Apple Cider – 1/2 cup
Garlic – 1/2 cup (crushed)
Ginger Paste – 1 tbsp
Jaggery – 1 tsp
Tamarind Pulp – 2 TSP
Rock Salt – 1/2 TSP
Olive or Refined Oil – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
1. Put green chillies and vinegar in the mixer pot and crush them. Don’t make a fine Paste.
2. Heat oil in a pan and fry crushed garlic.
3. Add ginger paste, crushed chillies, jaggery, tamarind Pulp and both salts and let it cook for 10 minutes on medium flame.
4. Let it cool and store it in a jar in the refrigerator. It’ll last you a month.
Eat it with paranthas, chips, nachos, mathri, crackers or sausages. It’s the perfect chutney to spice up your simple dal-chawal meal.
Being a farmer’s granddaughter, the initiative made a lot of sense to me. My maternal grandfather had a masters degree in agriculture and owned farmland in Uttarakhand’s Udham Singh Nagar district which was given to him during Vinoba Bhave’s green revolution. My nana loved farming and he loved playing with new techniques to get better produce. At home, he would spend his time taking care of the plants and would teach us too. At present, the farmers of our country need a lot of support from us. They, afterall, are the backbone of our existence.