Aam Sattwa or Chutney (Dried Mango Chutney)

This is the king of all chutneys in Bengali cuisine. This chutney is served during special occasions and if God forbid if any other chutney is served in say a biye bari/wedding feast judgements are passed and opinions are formed. An example of one of the civilised opinions formed would be that the hosts of the wedding are misers trying to save money on the chutney. Bongs, like we all know are pretty serious about their food, and deadly serious about their fish, mutton and sweets. So trying to save a few thousand rupees on the chutney is not seen very favourably. You may call them mean but that is how deadly serious Bongs are about their food.

So what is this special chutney made of? The primary ingredient is aam sattwa or dried mango pulp. It is widely available in all the markets of Bengal, comes in narrow stripes, wrapped in cellophane paper. This is a traditional way of preserving mango and consuming it way after its season. You can have this all on its own, it is delectable. It is sold according to its weight and not very cheap. 

 The other ingredients of the chutney are dates or khejur as we call it in Bangla and kismis or raisins. Since I did not have any dates I used dried prunes and apricots.

To prepare the chutney soak the raisins in water, chop the aam sattwa into small pieces and cut the dates into half. Keep aside.

Preparing this chutney is pretty easy. Here is what you do, in a large pan take 2 cups of sugar and 4 cups of water. Put the flame on medium. Yes, you are into the serious business of making caramel but you have to stir this caramel to stop it from burning, a few air bubbles do not make any difference to the chutney. Let the water reduce to half, this is what Bengalis would call garo rosh/ deep caramel. 

In Bong cuisine various kinds of caramels are used like patla rosh or light caramel which is used for rossogollas and plastic chutney (yes you heard right, but please do not freak out it is raw papaya chutney, got the name from the pale plastic look the chutney has) or garo rosh usually used for chutneys and pantunas/gulab jamuns.

To get back to the chutney once the caramel has thickened and taken on a dark brown look, add the aam sattwa, dates and raisins. Cook for 5 to 7 mins, continuously stirring, till the sweet smell of aam sattwa spreads in your entire house. Remove from heat and let it cool down for an hour or so. Once it cools down the liquid will become pretty thick and sticky. Your chutney is ready. Be warned this chutney is seriously sweet, but oh-so-tasty. It stays in a sterilised jar in the fridge for about 2 to 3 weeks. 

What you can do to bring down the sweetness is add some lime juice. It makes the chutney a bit more liquidy and brings down the extreme sweetness. If you like your chutney savoury along with the lime juice you can add some jeere bhaja ar guro and rock salt.

As for me I love all three versions and preserve the sweet chutney and make each helping sweet, sweet and sour or savoury according to my mood.

A classic way to have this chutney would be with papor bhaja/ fried poppadams sesh paat ee/ at the end of your meal.

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