afghan chatni that accompanies kebabs in Afghanistan has no relation to the sweet and savory, fruit-studded preserves with which most of us are familiar. The Afghan version chatni is a thin, herbaceous, acidic sauce. Afghan chatni as “a relish made of fruits, spices and herbs.
Afghan Chatni is the ambrosia that turns a plain, unadulterated piece of broiled chicken into a glorious and memorable meal. It’s the sweet or spicy or pungent condiment that gives the perfect flavor lift to such bland foods as scrambled eggs, steamed rice with vegetables or simple seafood dish
Occasionally, afghan chatnis that contrast in taste and colour can be served together — a favourite combination being a green mint and chile chatni with a contrasting sweet brown tamarind and date chatni.
Afghan Chatni may be ground with a mortar and pestle . Spices are added and ground, usually in a particular order; the wet paste thus made is sautéed in vegetable oil, usually (sesame) or peanut oil. Electric blenders or food processors can be used as labor-saving alternatives to stone grinding.
American and European-style chatni are usually fruit, vinegar, and sugar cooked down to a reduction, with added flavourings. These may include sugar, salt, garlic, tamarind, onion or ginger.
They were a way to use a glut of fall fruit and preserving techniques were similar to sweet fruit preserves using approximately an equal weight of fruit and sugar, the vinegar and sugar acting as preservatives.
4 ounces fresh cilantro leaves, unpacked (NOT dried cilantro)
1 green chili pepper, coarsely chopped (jalapeno is preferred but for less fire use a milder chili)
3⁄4 tablespoon sugar
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon walnuts (*optional, read NOTE) or 1 tablespoon almonds, coarsely chopped
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup white wine vinegar or 1⁄2 cup distilled white vinegar
Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor and mix well.
Allow to marinate for at least 2 hours. The chutney will be somewhat watery.
NOTE: *when I did “research” for this recipe all the variations had nuts included. I never use them and prefer the chutney without.