Thursday, April 22, 2021

S is for Salt and Chillies #AtoZChallenge

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the fourth week of the #Blogging from A to Z  April Challenge 2021. My theme this year is based on the Japanese concept of Ichigo Ichie which means--"What we are experiencing right now will never happen again. And therefore, we must value each moment like a beautiful treasure."

I've put together a collage of such moments which can be seen as chance occurrences, coincidences, pre-destined or random (depending on who you ask) for this month's challenge. 

I hope you'll enjoy being here.

Thank you.

"A good mood, helped along by pleasant company, 
is an essential ingredient for enjoying our food."

Quote borrowed from The Book of Ichigo Ichie       

You've all met Julie on 'J' day. But, if you missed out, you can meet her today : Julie

We go back to October 2018 for today's post, back to Julie and Guruji's house in Maunda, the last village of Uttarakhand.

The night was cold. The sky was an ocean of stars twinkling in inky waters. Our group of seven was sitting around an electric heater in Guruji's sitting room on thin carpets layered with thick, warm woollen rugs, cocooned in our thermals and down jackets. 

Whenever anyone entered or left the room (mostly to bring tea or water) he/she was told to shut the door securely.

Julie came in holding a steel thali and a katori (plate and bowl).

"Eat this. You'll love it. Eat with the chutney--majja aayega." crisp like the cold October night, Julie issued her instructions, handed the thali and katori to Rajat and left the room.

Roughly chopped wedges of apple, some big, some small, crowded the thali. 

"These are from our baag (orchard)." Guruji announced proudly.

I'd spotted one or two pink and white blossoms on the apple trees circling their house when we had arrived. Late bloomers. We were told the apple harvest had suffered because of unseasonal rains that year. The apples, although delicious, had become marked and were therefore not good enough to be sold in the mandi (market).

"Take the chutney." reminded Pradhanji, who was also sitting with us. 

I took a slice of apple, dipped it in the bowl, picked a tiny blob of coarse green chutney and took my first bite. 

A crescendo of lip-smacking, ooing, aahing and omging and wondering what could've made this chutney so damn tasty rose around the heater. 

Then Julie came back with more apple slices and chutney.

"You liked it." she announced her question with the surety of someone who knows how good their wares are.

"What was in it?" Rajat, the hotelier, asked.

"Salt and chillies."

"Must be Himalayan salt, pink salt?" offered Siddharth, another trekker who owns a successful restaurant.

", it's that packet one from the shop." Julie dismissed his suggestion with a smile.

"Must be the sillbatta (pestle and mortar) then. This taste--has to come from hand grinding chillies." Vani added.

"Arre, can't handle sillbatta. I'm too old. I made it in the mixie (mixer-grinder)." Julie thwarted every suggestion skilfully.

"Are you sure there's nothing other than salt and chillies in the chutney?" Rajat tried again.

"Of course not! Just those chillies growing outside and saada namak (simple salt)." Julie's eyes were shining with tears of mirth at our expense while we sat around the heater, enamoured by her everyday, ordinary chutney.

It had to be the chillies. It had to be the good, nutritious soil of Julie's garden. It had to be her love. It had to be the fact that she grows them herself. We sat there that night listing all the ingredients Julie took for granted and therefore forgot to mention to us when we asked her for her chutney recipe.

The next morning, we left for the trek. We met her on the way. She was walking back home after collecting fresh grass for Lali, her cow.

"As long as I can walk, I'll feed her fresh grass." Julie had told us once.

The one thing I was looking forward to the most (second only to a shower) when we reached Maunda after our arduous trek was apple wedged dipped in Julie's home made chutney.

Do you have a simple 2/3 ingredient recipe that you'd like to share?
Is there a spice, condiment, chutney you cannot do without?
You know I'd love to hear, if you'd like to share.

I wrote about serendipity in 2017. I didn't know about the concept of Ichigo Ichie then, but this post is a perfect fit : Silver Serendipity

This year, I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z  powered by 


  1. Nothing better than homemade food! I love the way you remember and tell this story ;)

  2. Oh, yum. I've just had my lunch, but want to taste that chutney now!! Nothing like homemade food. :D
    Yeah, my mom has simple chutney recipes. The one made with fresh and young garlic bulbs is my favorite. Just crush the new garlic bulbs with red chilies (not the dried ones). Squeeze lemon juice, add salt, and mix. That's it. :)

    1. I'll be trying your garlic chutney recipe soon Sri. Thank you for sharing. xx

  3. Enjoyed reading the post though it is you who got to taste the delicious chutney.

    1. HA! ha:)
      That's true Rajeev.
      You sound like me when I see Insta food posts by family/friends.

  4. I have heard this before and now when I read it I can feel the same engagement it retains through out

    1. Thank you so much Shubhi. You know when it didn't get picked, I was (naturally) disappointed. But then, hard work never goes to waste. So glad you read it.
      You're the only one who's heard the Hindi version till now:)

  5. Hari OM
    I'm allergic to apples - but would happily take the chatni on dry crackers! For me, dhaniiya ke patte with harii mirch and a little ground naariyal.... mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm oh yes, perhaps a little namak, bhi. YAM xx

    1. I've never put naariyal in my dhania chutney Yamini. Will try it out. Cheers.
      I put walnuts and dried pomegranate seeds (my mother's recipe) in mine (along with ginger and green chillies).

  6. Apples & Chutney combo, never heard about it ever. Chilies in Chilly weather sounds like another deadly combo, like Mirchi pakode, Chai & Baarish something we ate every monsoon in aamchi Mumbai.
    The chutney you referred, Maharashtrians make something similar they call it "Thecha" - it could be made with minimum ingredients and in multiple ways too. check it out. We prepare one interesting drink called Sambaram. Like people wait for the kheer I long for this drink in our feasts.Its made with green chilies, regular rock salt,curry leaves & watery butter milk (hing /asfoetida is optional) These ingredients used to be mostly crushed with hand in earlier days and then add the buttermilk. Best for digestion they say. South Indian feast served on Banana leaf is incomplete without this(even in restaurants in Doha). But nothing can beat the homemade ones!

    1. Your sambaram sounds like chaas Vidya. I love it. Especially now that it's getting warmer, it'll be the perfect drink --shall make some soon.
      Thank you for introducing me to thecha--shall check it out. xx

  7. Three of the most important things in my kitchen - salt, spices and chillies! I often make red onion chutney - thinly sliced red onions softened in olive oil, sugar and lemon juice added, then bubbled and stirred until thick!Yummy!

    1. Thank you for your onion chutney recipe Keith. By the looks of it, it will be chutney on toast for the rest of the week for us.
      Hope the husband is reading my blog posts or he'll be wondering! Ha! HA!

  8. I agree, the overall atmosphere greatly contributes to how you perceive a meal. Nice decoration, music, light, friendly service, it all goes hand in hand with a wonderful dining experience.

  9. Sometimes simple can be amazing as it sounds like this chutney certainly was. In Maine, I grew up eating clam dip which is made with cream cheese, sour cream and minced clams. Simple but delicious. It is now also attached to many happy family celebrations and events so it is even more special. We always bring out the clam dip. Weekends In Maine

    1. Simple dishes are usually the ones that we reminisce about most often as they become part of the 'happy memories' narrative.
      Thank you for sharing your recipe Karen:)

  10. Hmmm apple and chutney. I felt they are reserved only for snacks and not for fruits. Can't wait to try out today, though I can't make chutney only with chillies and salt. I need few more ingredients added to it.. but for today, why not? Your blogs have a pleasant touch which makes it so easy to reach the end.

    1. Thank you Farida.
      I hope you give this 2 ingredients chutney as go--and tell me when you eat it with apples:)
      BTW, this is a very pahari thing to do.
      My grandfather used to eat all his fruit with black salt. Try eating chilled water melon slices sprinkled with black salt--the taste is divine.

  11. It was her love. And the fresh ingredient and its simplicity.

  12. It sounds delicious! :) Now I'm hungry for some chilies...

    The Multicolored Diary

  13. Oooo I want to taste that chutney... Are u sure it was just green chillies and Namak...let me grind them together and see how they taste.

    For me it is coriander leaves + Pudina leaves + salt + sugar + garlic + ginger + green chillies..... And that tastes heavenly :)

    1. Hey Ira, did you try it? How was it?
      Your chutney sounds tasty...shall try it. Cheers. xx


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