Generally speaking, a cooked chutney is far less complicated and time consuming to make than most traditional Indian pickles. Although Jane Grigson does mention that “they are very difficult to make really well because of the balance and variation in quantities”, and then adds, “I imagine this is why certain recipes are treasured in families and shared only with close friends”. Women in Coorg, though, appear to have mastered the art of making a range of chutneys that will take you thorough many seasons and circumstances. There is a kind of satisfaction and reassurance to be drawn from serried ranks of bottles on your kitchen shelves that may be relied on in every kind of situation. Their presence suggests an unspoken shoring up of reserves for days we are yet to encounter. While cooking a chutney, the immediacy of your activities is always shot through with the awareness of the future: unmapped, nebulous days that may run along with, or counter to your best laid plans; days when you will finally begin to consume the contents of the bottle that you are just planning to fill.

For a morning’s washing, slicing, chopping and slow-cooking, you can enjoy extended moments of pleasure at the table, moments that might recur over weeks or months, depending on how many bottles you happen to fill. On a table loaded with big dishes of this and that, a small bowl of chutney sparkles with a promise to bring a brightness and focus to your meal that none of the more elaborate creations can offer. When, on the other hand, there is very little, a chutney can transform the ordinary into something deeply pleasurable.The firm native limes of Coorg, after a long, contemplative soak in brine become pale, soft and pliant. The challenge of their sour skins has been mellowed by salt, and they can be ground -unresistingly smooth, or slightly chunky -as you wish, and cooked into a chutney that awakens your senses with the first whiff of its piercingly clear, slightly dangerous perfume. It is best eaten in very small helpings to savour every bit of its distracting intensity, which stirs something inexplicable in you. This has become less visible on our tables of late, possibly something to do with the length of time that one has to spend waiting for the limes to soften in salt and their own juices, and the increasing clamour of our lives.Ripe, ready tomatoes behave quite differently, affording almost instant pleasure, ending up in a voluptuous tangle of pulp and spice, turning a glossy, brazen red that can be eaten in generous scoops without much concern, the last traces on your plate scraped off with your fingertips.A helping of chutney brings substance and legitimacy to a frugal meal. When the appetite is overwhelmed by grief, loss, illness, boredom -or just the desire to be alone, one can resort to rice, curd and a helping of the appropriate chutney. The flavours bring an indescribable clarity to your particular state of mind. It is also an acknowledged, timeless classic, a helping on your plate making a legitimate meal -a sharp answer to those too-probing questions of the ‘what-did-you-eat-for-lunch’ variety, aimed at finding out if you were indeed so lonely or bereft that you had dined off leftovers. The presence of a chutney brings comfort in more ways than one.

All Food Styling: Kaveri Ponnapa
Photo Credits: A.G.P Sathyaprakash

Do look out for the recipes of all the food featured here in my upcoming cookbook.

  1. pradeep says:

    Mam, I am a fan of your website, the pictures posted here are awesome!!! please can you teach how to prepare coorg style akki rotti

  2. Kaverappa Padeyanda says:

    Nice, Tomato chutney with rice makes very good combination also pickle of tomatoes are very good..After waiting for a long time for your post got to see wonderful recipe…Thanks for wonderful recipe and writing…Eagerly waiting for your book to see wonderful surprises shared in the book…Thanks for sharing all the wonderful recipe and your writing is tooooo Goooood…..Thank you!!

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Thank you very much, Kaverappa, and yes, I agree, tomato chutney goes perfectly with rice. In fact, it does not need anything else with it. My book is taking ages, I know, but I think the wait will have been worth it, when it’s finally ready-or at least, I hope so! Warm wishes.Kaveri

  3. Neelam says:

    Kaveri

    It’s hard not to feel desirous of the food you have described so temptuosly well . You add so much character to the ingredient – in this case the redness and pulpyness of the tomato – making it the protoganist playing such a crucial role in the build up to the climax . Simply wowed !!!!

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Hello Neelam, thank you very much for all the nice things you have to say about this post. It’s great to hear from someone who has read and enjoyed what’s written, and followed the path I have taken into a particular dish, it always makes my day. Please keep reading, and do share if you like an article. Best wishes.Kaveri

  4. SANGEETA KHANNA says:

    What succinct writing. One drools as one reads and these chutneys made my mouth pucker up with those bitter orange flavours. It was almost tanginble 🙂

    Thank you for the taste of such flavourful writing.

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Sangeeta, how good to have you on this page. I love being able to share my experiences of various ingredients in the kitchen with people who have a similar interest in, and love for, good food. It is often the beginning of an extended conversation, and also friendships. Thank you very much for reading. Warm wishes.Kaveri

  5. Nandini Shankar says:

    Mam wonderful pictures in ur blog with varieties of recipes…. Love to see ur posts with very nice writing about each recipe… Waiting very eagerly for your recipe book..

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Hello Nandini, welcome to The Coorg Table. Thank you very much for your kind words, and I hope you don’t have to wait too long for my book. It seems to be taking its own time to get done, but I’m sure you’ll enjoy it once it is. Warm wishes. Kaveri

  6. Kishore says:

    Tomato chutneys are a lovely addition to any meal I guess.The Odisha version known as tomato “khotta”. Malayalees have their thakkkkali pachadi / chammanti; and the Tamil tomato thokku . I have been experimenting with tomatillos,, and they are fantastic. in salsa or even in guacamole, the Mexican version of out chutneys .(Mexico is where tomato cultivation started it all !!)
    Cant wait for your new book!
    Beautifully presented, as always. I am a great fan.

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Now you have created serious ingredient envy with your mention of Mexican salsas. They are absolutely stunning in their freshness, texture and flavour, not to mention the serious levels of chili, which can shock even the Indian palate. The range of exotic and unusual tomatoes and tomatillos is also extraordinary, as you would already know from your experiments. Thank you so much for sharing, and for your good wishes and interest. Warm wishes. Kaveri

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Hello Vijaya, thank you very much for writing-of course I will let you know as soon as my book is ready. I hope you will keep reading these pages. Warm wishes. Kaveri

  7. Kausalya says:

    Radhika your description of curd rice with chutney of your choice is so heartwarming. The way you write, we are almost transported to those big kitchens with large hearths and pots and pans on the fire. Almost like Julia Child’s description of French cooking.

    1. Kaveri Ponnapa says:

      Thank you for writing this, Kausalya. I am more than honoured to be mentioned in the same sentence as Julia Child! My own experience of a classic Coorg kitchen was my grandmother’s, filled with all description of copper and terracotta pots and pans, which will always remain the perfect image in my memory. Do keep reading. Warm wishes. Kaveri

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