Board the chutney express for a health kick

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Don’t you just love chutneys? They are so tasty, and give just the right amount of oomph to food. I eat chutneys at breakfast (with ragi idlis or bajra dosas), with lunch (made from ingredients like sesame, peanuts, flax seeds, spinach, coriander) and, of course, at dinner as well.

Why are chutneys such a universal favourite? Because even though one may eat a small quantity, if made with the right ingredients, they give you a fabulous shot of not just great taste but also good health. So what are good ingredients? Ingredients like sesame, peanuts, flax seeds, gooseberries, coriander, mint, raw mangoes, spinach, ridge gourd peels, tomatoes, onions, carrots, beetroots … the sky can be the limit if one thinks out of the box while making chutneys.

Sesame seeds are very rich in calcium. Roast sesame seeds, add green chillies, some ginger and garlic and fresh coriander. Blend it all with a little bit of water, add salt to taste and you have a calcium shot ready to go!

Beetroots are great for lowering your blood pressure. Chop a couple of beetroots along with some ginger, raw mangoes as per your taste, green chillies, some salt and mint leaves. Blend them well and serve fresh. Throw in some of the beet greens as well if you like, you will be helping to strengthen your immune system.

Are you short on vitamin C? Never fear, gooseberries are here! They are one of the richest sources of natural vitamin C in nature. Eat amlas and safeguard yourself from colds! Blend some amlas, fresh coriander, green chillies and salt. Add water while blending so that all the amla blends smooth.

Spinach makes awesome chutney and will give you an iron shot as well. Take equal amounts of spinach and green coriander, one or two raw mangoes, two green chillies, three to four garlic pods and half a brown bread slice. Blend everything well. Add salt to taste and enjoy.

Tomatoes are an amazing source of lycopene. They are super rich in nutrients and tomato chutney is an all time favourite with many people. Roast chopped tomatoes till they soften and add some soaked tamarind pulp to it along with a few garlic pods. Blend with some salt, then add red chilli powder, turmeric and methi powder and mix well. Do a tadka with mustard seeds, curry leaves and some methi seeds. Eat this with rice.

You can make a sweet chutney using dates. Dates are a fibre storehouse and have a very low glycemic index as compared with jaggery. Soak some seedless dates till they soften. In a blender, add the dates, red chilli powder, some tamarind pulp, roasted cumin powder and ginger powder. Blend till you get a smooth paste.

A healthy yet tasty chutney is garlic chutney. Garlic helps to lower blood pressure and improve heart health as well as immunity. Roast some garlic pods and green chillies in pure mustard oil, then cool them. Blend well. You can even make this with dry red chillies and use as a spread in vada pavs.

My all time favourite chutney is made from ridge gourd peels. In a pan, add the peels of the ridge gourd (peels are where much of the nutrient lies, and you have the added advantage of making a ridge gourd curry as well when you use the peels) along with some salt and steam cook them till done.

Remove from pan and now roast cumin, urad dal, chana dal, white sesame seeds as well as some green chilles. Grind everything together and serve fresh. Yummy!

(The writer is a vegan chef and author of The Vegan Kitchen: Bollywood Style!)

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