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Pudina chutney is a condiment native to India that is made primarily from mint plants. In texture, it can appear like jelly, salsa, paste or a sauce, depending on the recipe and the food with which it is meant to be consumed.
Recipes for pudina chutney vary greatly, with hundreds of varieties available. Almost all recipes treat the dish as a sweet and sour food. Cooks often use both lemon juice and yogurt or coconut when making the chutney, for example. It is for this reason that pudina chutney pairs so well with such a wide variety of dishes.
In addition to sweet and sour ingredients, pudina chutney usually calls for coriander, also known as cilantro. Typically, cooks use more mint than coriander. When a cook wants to make the chutney crunchy, he adds ingredients like pomegranate seeds, cumin seeds or onions. Other items like salt, pepper, tamarind, and chopped chili peppers provide more flavor.
In an extremely basic pudina chutney recipe, cooks use only mint, coriander, water, and a touch of salt, sugar and lemon juice. They fry the mint and coriander in oil and then grind it together with the rest of the ingredients. In more complex recipes, cooks fry additional ingredients like chili peppers, as well, but do so separately from the mint and cilantro. All ingredients come together in the grinding process.
Traditionally, cooks ground pudina chutney by hand with mortar and pestle sets. Modern chefs use automated tools like blenders to simplify and speed up the chutney-making process. With the aid of these technologies, chefs can put together a basic chutney from start to finish in less than ten minutes.
Mint chutney is variable from a basic recipe. For example, a chef can add a little yogurt and salt to the fundamental ingredients to pair the chutney with some kabobs. Using the same base, he can add some onions and pair the chutney with rice. This is not unlike someone using one type of mustard for a hot dog and another type for a gourmet sandwich.
A down side to pudina chutney is that it is quite perishable. It does not keep for very long in the refrigerator, so it is better to make just a small amount and serve it fresh. When it is necessary to store pudina chutney, waiting to add the water until serving sometimes helps to prevent spoilage.
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