I recall attempting an Indianized version of Garlic Chicken when I was 15 years old or so. My brother who was studying in Bangalore was home on holidays. I wanted to make this for him as well as someone who was coming over for lunch. I was bursting with confidence and decided to construct the recipe based entirely on what I thought went into it. With hardly any access to the internet or any recipe books, I proceeded with the dish and to ensure that I was on the right track made by brother taste it at different stages. Instead of using a spoon to add the chilli powder in , I gently (I thought I was being gentle) patted the dabba containing it directly over the sauce. To my horror, nearly half the contents landed in the sauce. To rectify, I immediately added half a bottle of tomato sauce. My brother said that it was too sweet now. In went some more chilli and then it was too spicy again. Again some more sauce. I clearly remember my brother saying that to get it right so much of everything had gone into it. My mother was anything but pleased to see that the precious tomato sauce that was used sparingly was completely wiped out while making one dish. I was reminded of this story when my mother was teaching me her signature Aamer (Mango) Chutney and Aam (Mango) Bata (paste). The raw mangoes we had bought from the market were way too sour and we had to add a LOT OF SUGAR to get the balance right. It ended up tasting great at the end, but we knew how much sugar had gone into it. Lesson of the day was to taste the mango before starting. Both recipes are incredibly simple and yummy. The Aam Bata can be had with rice, parathas, and rotis. The Aamer Chutney is a traditional Bengali preparation that is usually had at the end of a meal. It goes well with Khakra and parathas also. Here are the recipes:
1 raw mango
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 green chilli
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
Grind all the ingredients together into a fine paste and you are done. You can add a small amount of water while grinding. The bata is meant to be tangy and sweet with a slight kick of mustard.
1 raw mango peeled and cut lengthwise, retain the seed as well
1 tsp nigella seeds or mustard seeds
2 dried red chillies
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2tsp finely chopped ginger
2 Kaffir lime leaves (optional)
3-4 tbsps of sugar
Salt to taste
1 tsp vegetable oil
1. Heat the oil and add the nigella seeds and the red chillies. Take care to ensure that you don’t burn the chillies.
2. Add the raw mango pieces and turmeric. Toss it for about 2 minutes. Add enough water so that the pieces are submerged. Cook on medium till the mango pieces soften a bit. Avoid overcooking the mango.
3. Once the mango softens a bit, add the sugar, ginger, and the lime leaves. Also add the cumin powder and the chilli powder. Bring it to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. The chutney is usually slightly thick. If you want it to be slightly thinner, you could some water at this stage. The lime leaves impart a lovely flavour to this chutney.