Dhaniya (Coriander) Chutney
This is the 1st installment in my 5 part series on the fundamentals of Indian Street/Snack Foods. The Second is Imli (Tamarind) Chutney, the third is Dry Kala Chana (Black Chickpeas), and the 4th is Aloo (Potatoes) for Chaat. (The 5th is coming soon).
Dhaniya otherwise known as Coriander or Cilantro, is a really common ingredient both in South Asia and South America and even shows itself in Vietnam and other East Asian countries. Every country handles this herb in a very unique and delicious way. Where I come from in North India, Dhaniya Chutney is a very basic staple chutney or sauce that people eat with snacks and appetizers. Dhaniya (Coriander) Chutney and Imli (Tamarind) Chutney are the mustard and ketchup of North India. Used on everything from dips, to condiments on sandwiches. Both chutneys together provide all the flavors needed for a complete mind-blowing flavor sensation. Salty and spicy with a subtle bitter come from the Dhaniya Chutney, while sweet and sour come from the Imli (Tamarind) Chutney. More often than not, you will not usually see one chutney without the other. They are usually always together in dishes or as condiments. They are great individually, but the magic happens when you bring them together.
Growing up, my mom always made this chutney at home. We almost always had a container of this in the fridge. It wasn’t until I got much older that I began to appreciate the difference between the ready-made stuff you can buy in jars and home-made chutney. First and foremost, home-made will always be better for the simple fact that you can control every factor. You can decide how much spice to put, how thick or liquidy you want it. Because you can decide, the final product will always be more to your liking. The second most important fact homemade is better, is that you are using fresh ingredients! Until you eat fresh food regularly, you will not even realize how much you are missing out on! Fresh is always better. The flavors are much deeper and much more satisfying for the palate. Once you start cooking food fresh, it will be very difficult to go back.
Now, my mom had many variations of this chutney, sometimes she would add yogurt, sometimes onion, sometimes lots of vinegar, sometimes no vinegar, it really depended what kind of mood she was in, or what the intended use for the chutney was. A lot of people add fresh mint to this, or completely replace the Dhaniya (Coriander) with mint that is an option that you can choose to try out also. This recipe that I am sharing with you, is a super basic recipe. When you have this, you can add things to it later, or use it as is. I prefer to make my chutneys on the thicker side, this is mostly due to the fact that especially with this fresh Dhaniya Chutney that cannot cook down, once you thin it out, there is no going back. So I always like to aim to make it as thick as possible, and then decide when I am using it what the exact consistency I want is.
Now let me show you how to make it! =)
First and foremost, this might possibly be the most important step of them all, and one that you absolutely under no circumstance can skip, you MUST wash the Dhaniya (Coriander). You cannot just give it a quick rinse and assume that it’s all clean. Somehow Dhaniya (Coriander) has this annoying habit of holding onto ALL the dirt around it when it is harvested. I go through a multistep process when I wash it that I will walk you through right now. First I start by keeping the tie on the bunch, and I use that to help hold all the leaves and stems together at first. I submerge the bunch leaf side first in the water, in and out 5-6 times. Every couple of times I drain the water and do it again in fresh water.
You can see how gross and dirty the water is. This is actually one of the cleaner waters I’ve seen when starting the washing process. Many times there will be actual black dirt floating around and sitting at the bottom of the bowl. If you do not wash this properly, no matter what you are making, it is going to taste like dirt. Obviously if you notice the water getting dirty, drain it, and continue submerging and removing the bunch from the water.
Once the water starts to look clear, I break off the leaves from the stems usually using the tie as a guide as to where to break, and place the leaves in a separate bowl. (To make this chutney you will need multiple bunches of Dhaniya (Coriander)). In this picture I have 4 bunches in a large steel bowl. The dhaniya (Coriander) is not done being washed but we are keeping these on the side in preparation for the next step.
Once you have finished the first step, you need to re-submerge all the leaves into clean water. If your bowl is big enough then you can do this all at once. If not then you will need to do this in batches. Submerge the leaves in clean water, and agitate the leaves with your fingers. You want to shake it around as much as possible to help any loose dirt fall to the bottom of the bowl. Lift everything out of the bowl, drain the bowl, and repeat this step at least 3 times. Even if the water is clean each time, it’s important to do this a few times because you may loosen something the first 2 times that only falls by the third time.
Once you feel like you have sufficiently washed the dhaniya, move it in small bunches to another bowl leaving as much water behind as possible. You want to inspect each smaller bunch to make sure there are no obvious bad parts or black stems or anything else you don’t want so that you can pick it out before you move it to the “dry” bowl. (The steel bowl in this picture is smaller than the last one, that’s why it looks like there is more dhaniya). Now you are done washing. If you are not confident that everything is clean, repeat whatever steps you need to, to be confident.
Once you have shaken out enough water from the Dhaniya and moved it into the “dry” bowl. It’s time to add everything into the blender. A food processor would probably work even better for this. (My CuisineArt food processor is currently under recall for the blade attachment, and I am waiting for the replacement). You will notice that my 4 bunches that I used for this recipe has almost completely filled my blender container. If all of your leaves don’t fit into the blender don’t worry. You will see how much it reduces, just start out with whatever you can fit, and add more when the first bit has reduced. This is when we add the dhaniya leaves and the indian green chili pepper. I added just one, but you can add another if you like your chutney really spicy. If you do not have access to Indian green chili peppers, you can substitute a Thai chili in its place. First I started by just blending these.
My blender, the Vitamix, comes with a tamper that you can use to help push things down towards the blade, this really helps reduce the amount of liquid needed to get everything to blend properly. If you have this with your blender you will definitely be needing it. Otherwise every couple seconds you may need to turn it off and push everything down with a spoon, and repeat until everything is broken down. In this way, a food processor would be easier, since you would not need to push anything down. Once everything has reduced, add the lemon juice, salt, Indian chili powder, dhaniya(coriander) powder, and chaat masala. Blend it all again so everything is mixed nicely. A note about Chaat Masala since I have not talked about it yet on the blog. Chaat Masala is a pre-made indian spice blend that includes things like dried mango powder, pomegranate seed powder, ginger, black salt etc. The intention is not to be spicy, the spice mix is more on the sour and savory side. It is used in anything and everything related to “street food” or snack food. You will be seeing it in a lot of my Indian “snack” recipes. I would highly recommend not skipping out on it. If you do not have a South Asian grocery store near you, this is the exact brand that I use: MDH Chunky Chat Masala. Also this is the Indian Chili Powder that I use, and this is the Coriander Powder that I use.
You will see that everything has reduced quite a bit. With 4 bunches of dhaniya (coriander) we get about 2 cups of chutney. Lastly I like to add the vinegar at the very end. The reason we add the vinegar is to help it last longer in the fridge. My husband is super sensitive to the flavor of vinegar, so if he tastes it he will not be too happy. This is why I add it last. I add a little bit at a time, and taste as I add. For him I will add it until I can just barely taste it. I like the taste of vinegar so you can add more in your chutney if you want. It will obviously add liquid, but its important if you want your chutney to last more than just 2-3 days. With the vinegar depending on how much you add it can last up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Make sure you blend whatever vinegar you do add in. Taste everything before you remove it from the blender. It may need more salt or any other spice. Make sure you like it before you take it out of the blender. Then you are done! It can be served fresh, or you can keep it in the fridge and serve it cold whenever you need it! =)
As you can see this chutney came out nice and thick. =)
I hope you give this recipe a try for yourself! Please be sure to let me know in the comments if you do! I would love to hear what you thought of it! Be sure to subscribe so that you can be notified when I post new recipes! (link in the sidebar). Follow me on Instagram @saltyoversweet and find me on Facebook (the link is in the sidebar).
- 4 bunches - Dhaniya (Coriander/Cilantro) - each bunch apprx 175 grams before washing
- 1 - Indian Green Chili Pepper - if you cannot find this you can sub Thai Chili Pepper
- 1 whole large lemon - Juiced (if lemons are small you may need 2 lemons)
- 1/4 teaspoon - salt
- 1/8 teaspoon - Indian Chili Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon - Dhaniya (Coriander) Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon - Chaat Masala
- 2 teaspoons - White Vinegar
- Wash the Dhaniya/Coriander/Cilantro thoroughly. (see the blog for detailed instructions)
- After it is washed and drained, you should have around 300g of Dhaniya (Coriander) leaves. Put the damp Dhaniya(Coriander) into a blender or food processor with 1 Indian Green Chili Pepper.
- Blend/Process until reduced. Add salt, Indian Chili Powder, Dhaniya(Coriander) Powder, Chaat Masala, and Lemon Juice. Blend/Process until everything is mixed in nicely.
- Lastly, add the vinegar, blend/process and then taste everything together and adjust for spice.
- Enjoy =)
- *Fresh mint can also be added, you can substitute one whole bunch of Dhaniya for 1 bunch of mint.
- *This recipe is inherently Vegan and Gluten Free
- *Some people like to add raw peanuts or grated coconut for thickness, this helps if by accident you make the chutney too thin.
- *The vinegar is optional, but if you want the chutney to last more than 2-3 days in the fridge, the vinegar can extend the life of the chutney up to 2 weeks depending on how much you add.
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