Monday 4 April 2016

C is for "Culture is Coriander Chutney."

What is culture, if not the passing of recipes from one generation to the next? 

Culture, according to my trusted Oxford Dictionary, is: "the customs, ideas, and social behaviour of a particular people or group." 

Hmmm... let's see...

The hurried pace of life these days leaves little space for following customs and traditions. Indian weddings, for example, are all about precisely planned and staged performances, instead of the organic singing sessions that sprung up every evening for at least a week before the big day, when I was growing up. Armed with dholak and chammach (drum and spoon), aunties and uncles and elders and youngsters would gather and sing and dance and drink masala chai. The youth would crack unsuitable jokes and then get told off by grannies. The grannies would nudge each other when the room was empty of the young, except the very young, recall the naughty jokes and laugh, shaking in mirth, sometimes covering their denture laden mouths with chiffon duppattas. The very young will remember this and write about them in their blogs.

Ideas change all the time and they should.

This post will become a rant if I get started on social behaviour. So I won't. Suffice to say, I'm not a fan of the screen addiction afflicting the young and the old today. Communicating via 'like' buttons, shared photos and emojis makes today's social behaviour scarily similar to George Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty Four'. I shudder.

The only constant, I believe, is food. No, the dictionary doesn't mention food. Recipes, passed down from great-grandmothers to grandmothers and so on, keep culture alive in the bellies, on the taste buds and therefore, in the hearts of children and future generations.

Okay, I agree that culture belongs to the people and by its very nature should be evolving and changing. Stagnation equals lost empires, not progress. But, some aspects of our heritage, wherever we come from, are worth holding on to. Food is the easiest and tastiest aspect of culture we can preserve for our children, not just cooking it but growing it and procuring it ethically, sensibly, like our ancestors did.

I don't know about you, but a lot of my favourite childhood memories link back to my mother's or my grandmother's kitchen. Food is the main ingredient of my nostalgia. What about you?

Today, I'm sharing my mother's coriander chutney recipe that I make often. My son loves it. He's never met her but he loves her food. 


A healthy looking bunch of fresh coriander (washed and roughly chopped)

An inch or two of fresh ginger

One/two or three whole green chillies

One medium red onion (cut in quarters)

2 heaped tablespoons of anardana- dried pomegranate seeds. The ones you find in Indian stores have seeds in them so I prefer the Iranian ones which are seedless.

Six or Eight walnut halves.

2 tablespoons of water.

Salt to taste

One lemon (optional)


I chuck all the ingredients listed above into my Vitamix, except salt and lemon, blend and voila! the chutney is ready. You could do the same in a food processor or a mixer-grinder.

Ready to blitz... I use short, sharp bursts on variable speed because I like chunky chutney, so I don't grind it too fine. Choose the texture you like.

Undo the lid and just smell the hot, sharp and fresh aroma of this simple chutney. Scrape it out into a container/pot/jar.

Add salt to taste.

An observation: If you use Indian anardana, you may need lemon juice to make the chutney tangy. I usually don't need any lemon juice when I use the Iranian variety. 

Play around with the proportions to find what you like; a little less chilly, a little more ginger or for a tangier version, add more anardana.

At home, we eat this chutney with rice and daal or spread on toast or mixed with bhel puri or as a dip with sweet potato wedges or oven baked beets or like I'm doing right now--with garam garam pakore (hot fritters).

Serve it as you like.

Enjoy and let me know if you do try this recipe.
One of my favourite poems to read to my children (when they were little) and to read aloud in class when I was a primary school teacher and to read to myself when the mood strikes is Michael Rosen's: 

You'll enjoy the rest of this delicious poem too...I'm sure


  1. This looks absolutely delicious. I agree with you about the use of 'like' buttons. I think that's one reason I don't use them in my comment sections. It's too lazy to click the like button and not give an actual reply.
    Looking forward to D (I'm sure it's something Delicious!)

    Twitter: @KnottyMarie
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    1. Thanks Mary. It is a yummy chutney if I say so myself:) We shall wait for D...drum roll please...not quite, but it's getting ready.

  2. OK I volunteered to pack lunch for a kid who lives in the apartment above mine for tomorrow. I have boiled the aloos and kneaded the dough for aloo paranthas. Want to bring that gorgeous chutney and eat some desi-ghee ka paranthas with me?
    PS- The paneer pakodas look unbelievable. I am so hungry again. *drops the laptop and runs to the kitchen for comfort food*

  3. PPS- I like the walnut garnishing on the chutney. Nice touch ;)

    1. I like that you like the garnish. How did the aaloo paranthas turn out? You know next time I'm in your neck of the woods, you will have to feed me those aaloo paranthas, right?

  4. Thanks for sharing the recipe, that looks good.

    1. Thank you. I hope you can try it for yourself one day.

  5. Visiting on the C DAY of the #Challenge. Friends, family, sharing a meal, a favorite dish that has been handed down. How blessed people are that can experience these happy occasions. If you have time and interest in historic hotels and inns, join me this April.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Stepheny. Yes, I count my blessings everyday:) I love history, so I will be knocking on your blog door soon.

  6. Is coriander the same thing as cilantro? I've never seen coriander for sale. The chutney looks delicious!

    I'm visiting from the A to Z Challenge.

    Shelly @

    1. Hi Shelly. Yes, coriander is cilantro. I love this chutney and hope you get to try it soon. Thanks for visiting.

  7. The recipe looks delicious! I'm more of an opinion that culture is ever-changing but I think it's also the fact that I didn't grow up in a very traditional household to begin with. And as for screens and social, they kinda fit my super-introvert personality. 😊

    1. Thanks for stopping by Miss Andy. I, on the other hand, am an out and out extrovert:) I see your point though. Hope you get to taste this chutney someday.

  8. The chutney sounds and looks delish! The only challenge for me to get will be the dried pomegranate seeds, but the search will be fun!

    And yes, food is culture and vice versa - an essential ingredient in any festival/celebration that fuels good conversation, conviviality and community. :-)

    1. I'm sure you'll be able to find dried pomegranate seeds...I hear there are many Indians in Canada:) Hope you do and then you can enjoy the chutney. You can add lemon juice instead if you don't find the seeds.

  9. Yummy chutney! Lucky me...I have had the privilege to have the chutney! Very interesting blog. You can Also start Indian Recipes blog. Good luck!

    1. Yes, and then Asim can do all the cooking while I click pictures and you think he'll like the idea????

  10. Never tried walnut in chutney- probably adds a pestoesque dimension

    1. I kept wondering what this new word 'pestoesque' is- even googled it--then saw the pesto in it!
      I guess so. Things you see happening routinely at home, you don't question. I thought most people put walnuts with anardaana in this chutney. Hope you get to make it and enjoy it.

  11. Dr. Vijayalaxmi A20 February 2022 at 13:12

    What a lovely variation in the list of
    chutneys !! So delicious and lip smacking !! Surely going to be in one of my favorites.. love the addition of walnut and Pomegranate seeds to it 💗


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