I always think carefully before I indulge in a dish chock-full of garlic. What am I doing tomorrow? Am I going anywhere? Who am I meeting with? I love it when the answers are, ‘nothing’, ‘no’ and ‘nobody’.
Controversially, I think that gobbling garlic swamped dishes should only really be done in the privacy of one’s own home; curtains shut tightly, chain on the door and phone off the hook. We don’t want any disturbances. I admire this almost ritualistic way of paying homage to the humble garlic by eating it privately, behind closed doors. I suppose it’s just human nature to enjoy doing something that makes you ask yourself whether you should really be doing it at all.
Did you know that garlic is slightly toxic and even if you are just preparing it, your breath and pores will take on that love it/hate it garlic smell. It is also a top blood purifier. Isn’t it great when the pros outweigh the cons?
To get that garlic smell off your hands, wash them with washing up liquid and very cold water immediately after handling it. Warm water will only open the pores of your skin and absorb it more. If this fails, then I suggest you embrace your new l’eau de toilette.
Garlic chutney, or ‘Lasan vari Chutney’ (in Gujarati) isn’t really a chutney at all. It contains no sugar (yay, diabetics!) and uses oil to preserve the pungent garlic and gunpowder-like chilli. It is probably more of an achar than anything else. I kept chutney in the title because it would be pedantic of me to assume that I could re-write the culinary history of Gujarat (although, that would be an awesome superpower to have).
Chutney/achar- minor blip in translation, ja?
‘ChAchar’ if you will.
Whatever you want to call it, it’s probably one of the most popular preserves/dinner accompaniments in every Gujarati household from India to Chile and every surrounding land. I’m quite positive that even Gujarati folks living in other galaxies (or garlicxies) can’t live without it. Ha, how I love cheesy word-play.
Look, you needn’t be bashful about having a fondness for Lasan vari Chutney. It should be considered as a part of the family; integrated into lifestyles and cuddled with two eager arms. Its versatility is commendable and it can be stored for ages when preserved in the correct way. I will tell you how, of course.
Serve it as an accompaniment to any curry (aubergines work particularly well), Indian breads (like millet chapattis, wheat chapattis or naan), stir it into warm vegetables, pasta sauces, stews and soups. Another thing that I like to do is to fold some into mashed sweet potatoes with a little butter. It is truly brilliant when you need instant garlic and chillies when making lazy curries- just dollop a spoonful in to your tempered spices and sauté. It also livens up a bowl of warm, comforting khichdi.
However creatively you like to use your Sizzlingly Hot Garlic Chutney, always remember that there are a trillion Gujaratis out there who will love you for caring for their beloved ‘ChAchar’. I will be at the front of that line.
Sizzlingly Hot Garlic Chutney
(Makes enough to combat an entire battalion of Vampires, which is handy because it’s almost Halloween and it lasts ages in the fridge)
Ingredients (metricated for accuracy)
120g fresh garlic, crushed (I used a garlic crusher)
400g red chilli powder (yes, really 400g)
120g fresh coriander, chopped
270ml olive oil (not extra virgin)
15g salt (you’ll only be eating a tiny bit at a time so don’t be put off)
90ml lemon juice
1. Mix all of the ingredients together. I wouldn’t use a blender because that rough texture you get when doing it by hand is awesome. Try not to inhale any chilli powder- seriously a bad, bad, bad mistaker-to-maker.
2. Pile into a large sterilised jar, packing it down as tightly as you can.
3. Top with a coating of olive oil to preserve it or it will go bad sooner. Do this every time you use it. Store in the refrigerator.