Allum Pachadi (fresh ginger chutney)
In the ‘70s our eating out scene started and ended with the udupi restaurants and the idli/dosa/vada outings. As kids would, we loved the potato masala and wondered why the adults lusted after the hot coconut chutney, happily agreeing to taking our little chutney katoris for themselves. When a little older, we timorously ventured to lick some of the chutney and understood why, after taking away the kids’ little chutney katoris, the adults still ordered some ‘extra chutney’.
The coconut chutney grew on us and eventually became so much larger than life that we had no mental space to look at other lesser chutneys with idlis and dosas.
With age came the spirit of exploring and developing other tastes and we realised there were so many other flavours and textures to a chutney. Anyone of them could go with idli/dosa. There was the hot hell’s fire dry chutney lining the mysore masala dosa, the tough and hardy gunpowder or malaga podi, even our Marathi pood chutney and danyachi (peanut) chutney were an able companion to the fermented fraternity. If nothing else, the unending supply of the mousy looking javas chutney (flaxseed) and karal chutney (niger seeds) with a spoonful of oil made a mean accompaniment.
But still, the merit of an idli/dosa restaurant was measured by the coconut chutney they served.
Until on a trip to Vishakhapatnam, I made a rediscovery of the allum pachadi.
At the breakfast buffet in the hotel where I was staying, I politely brushed away the waiter who was very helpfully and hospitably telling me they also served bacon and eggs and headed for the pesarattu live station. The pesarattu was excellent, the coconut chutney was good (it had the passed the test of - not rancid, more coconut, less roasted chana… etc) but the allum pacchadi that I very adventurously helped myself to, turned out to be the dark horse!
Delicious! A perfect blend of tart, sweet and salty tastes with an under note of bitter. A bit of umami (onion?) and plenty of heat from the chillies and a gingery zing! And what a lovely colour and texture!
Now that triggered a recall of Vedula aunty’s allum pacchadi, which was one the permanent fixtures in the little bowls on her dining table, rubbing shoulders with other chutneys, avakais and podis.
So this is for Shrimati Vedula Satyavati!
Aunty, I hope this is how you made your allum pacchadi.
Allum Pacchadi (Ginger Chutney)
2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp onion, chopped
1 tbsp urad dal
2 tbsp chana dal
4-5 whole red chillies , soaked in a little water (or more)
7-8 curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsps coriander seeds
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp grated jaggery (or more)
1 tsp thick tamarind paste (or more)
Salt to taste
A large pinch of hing
1 tsp oil
For the tempering
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp oil
Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan over low flame. Add the urad dal, chana dal and sauté until dals turn light brown. Add the curry leaves, soaked red chillies, fenugreek, coriander and cumin seeds, chopped onion and chopped ginger. Sauté until onion becomes translucent. Add a pinch of hing. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool.
Add the sautéed and cooled chutney ingredients in a mixer/grinder jar. Add the jaggery and tamarind paste and a little water and grind it into a smooth paste. Remove the chutney in a serving bowl.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a same pan. Add mustard seeds. Remove from heat when the seeds begin to crackle and pour over the chutney.
Serve with pesarattu, dosa, idli or even in a sandwich or on toast.
Stays fresh in the fridge for a few days.