Bengali karamcha chutney or more precisely Bengali karamcha tawk is a soupy chutney, sweet and sour preparation of these pink tinged berries called karamcha in Bengali, karonda in Hindi and got a fancy name as Carrissa Carandas. These Bengal currants, a monsoon produce has many culinary uses and enjoyed best as pickles, chutneys, jams and jellies. In north India however karonde mirchi ki sabzi is also very popular.
In Bengal however, these pink berries which are known for sour and piquant taste with undertone of sweetness is also used to make fish stews specially with the small riverine fishes.
Bengal currants/ karonda grows naturally in many places in India but unfortunately is very limited with in its geographical boundaries of origin. While the imported non-native berries has been successfully carved out a niche in our urban lifestyles, the demand for native berries like karonda is still very limited.
In my growing up years we had plenty of these native fruits – karonda and jamun or java plums in late summer and in the beginning of monsoon, thanks to a huge jamun tree in our neighborhood and wild karonda bushes in our backyard. I have seen my mom and our neighbors uses this wild berries in many ways, as chutneys, pickles and sabzi mostly. It was my dad who introduces us first to a fish stew made with bengal currant / karamcha (it was his childhood favorite) and since then it had become late summer staple in our homes when the bushes are laden with these pink tinged wild berries.
Karamcha chutney or tawk (also known as ambol) is soupy preparation of these slightly sweet and tangy karonda / karamcha flavoured with just mustard and dried red chillies. A dash of sugar to balance out the taste and this dish basically acts as a palate cleanser after a lazy afternoon Bengali Summer Meal. Tawk is usually served at the end of a Bengali meal.
Bengali Karamcha Karonda Chutney
- 100 gm Karamcha / karonda / natal plum
- 1 tbsp Mustard seeds, black tiny
- 1-2 Dried Red chillies
- 2-3 tbsp Raisins
- ½ tsp Turmeric powder
- ½ tsp Roasted cumin powder
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp Lime juice
- 1 tbsp Mustard oil / cooking oil
- Wash and clean karonda / karamcha . Cut them into halves. Choose karonda which are slightly sweet in taste for this recipe.
- In a pan, heat the oil. Temper it with mustard seeds and dried red chillies.
- Add the karonda with turmeric powder and little salt and saute them for few minutes. You will observe that after 5 minute or so, karonda has become soft and tender.
- Add the raisins, sugar and 4 cups of water. Cover and cook on low medium till karonda are soft and water has reduced a bit.
- Check for the seasonings, sprinkle roasted cumin powder and tip in the lime juice. Stir it well.
- Serve the karamcha chutney (usually served in a bowl with enough liquid) at room temperature or when it is cool down. This chutney is not served hot or warm.