Bangalore blue grape chutney :
Chutney are chutneys. Accept as they are. Neither it is a spicy jam nor it is a dip or relishes. In fact chutneys in India are always being prepared fresh and eaten fresh as condiment that beautifully complements the main meal. They are not (as claimed ) descended from the Medieval custom or practices of fruit relishes preserved with spices, sugar and vinegar.
In fact chutneys are never meant for preserving the fruit or vegetables, for that we have our own indigenous method of pickling the fruits and vegetables. Chutney generally means a mixture, of herbs, vegetables, lentils, peanuts and it involves sort of grinding or smashing together of the ingredients. As per Ayurvedic method of cooking, fruit should be eaten as whole. It contains ojas or energy. It should never be cooked or stewed in water or sugar syrup. And as per its philosophy, a full meal platter should have all the taste known to our body, sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, astringent and a good chutney should be able to give all these measure of taste in just two teaspoonfuls. Moreover, chutneys aids in digestion and bring balances to the meal.
So Indian chutneys are essentially made with freshest herbs of the season and seasonal vegetables and fruits like green mango and coconut. But with time our cuisine get influenced by other culture, Mughals brought yogurt dips with them, melons, grapes and other fruits of the dessert that were not known to us and we soon discovered how kebabs and batter fried pakoras , samosas taste better when served with chutneys. In the land of diverse culture and traditions, as we traverse from one corner to another, recipe of chutney varies from region to region, from one home to another and from one state to another. Yet we stand united in the spirit of festival, in the name of chutney. It is the very soul of India.
But one Major Gray of British India had changed the perception of chutney forever. One fine evening he might have discovered that the kebabs made by his bawarchi tasted far better when served with hot mango chutney, and he might have decided to ship that recipe to his homeland across the oceans. Obviously he could not shipped the native bawarchi, so he might have shipped the recipe instead through the British cooks, who in quest to retain the shelf life of the mango chutney through the months long sea voyages, ended up adding the vinegar to it… and rest is history.
Grape chutney – a relic of the colonial era now Indianized beyond recognition. In the temperate climates of the city of Bangalore, many vineyards thrives on its outskirts, Bangalore being the second largest producer of grapes in India now. And so much so that Bangalore now have a variety of its own, a grape named after the garden city, called as “Bangalore blue grapes”. Here you wont find lush rolling meadows like Napa or Sonoma but along the Doddaballarpur road, if you go further north towards Chikkaballapur, you will be welcomed by the rural landscapes. The drive is good and refreshing and you can see on both the sides of the road, grapes are growing in vineyards. Along the road, you can also spot the small scale farmers in temporary thatched stalls who sells grapes freshly plucked from farms. We bought a kilo of grapes for just Rs 30. Bangalore blue grapes has distinct sweet and sour taste and is not seedless. Infact the color of the grapes are not blue as such, if you hold them in sunlight you can see hues of maroon, and purple too.
- Blue grapes / red grapes/ black grapes : 500 gm
- Brown sugar : ½ cup (it depends upon the sweetness of the grapes, so adjust accordingly)
- Red chillies : 2-3
- Black Peppercorns : 10
- Cloves : 4-5
- Cumin seeds : 1 tsp
- Fennel seeds ; 1 tsp
- Chilli powder : a small pinch (use the one which is spicy / hot)
- Grated ginger : 1 tsp
- Black salt : ½ tsp
- Red wine vinegar : 2-3 tbsp
- In a deep bottom pan, add the grapes and let them sweat on high heat.
- Toss all the spices on a heated tawa. if you roast it the spices will lost its aroma. Best way is to sun dry them. If you cant, then use this method.
- Grind them in a coffee grinder to fine mix. Sieve the mix if it is not superfine, and keep it aside for later use.
- Once the grapes starts releasing its juices, reduce the heat and add the sugar and grated ginger.
- Let it cook on low heat.
- Give it an occasional stir. When much of the water is evaporated, add the spice mix , chilli powder and black salt. Stir it nicely, and keep smushing it with the help of a ladle.
- This recipe follows the reduction method of preparing the chutney as I wanted to store it for longer time.
- So I have not add water in it.
- When the chutney is reduced to its desired consistency, and it is looking like mushy pulp, add red wine vinegar.
- Adding vinegar is optional, if you do not want to preserve it for long, you can add lime juice too.
- Switch off and let it cool.
- Store it in sterilized jar. Keep refrigerated. It will stay for a month.
Happy Republic Day