What’s Your Favorite Indian Condiment?

Indian cuisine is elite. From rich curry and gravies to aromatic rice dishes to opulent bread, Indian cuisine has it all. What’s often underrated and not given enough recognition are the delicious condiments that Indian cuisine offers. Indians love their condiments and their meal is incomplete without them.

Condiments are an essential part of Indian cuisine, being served and consumed in every meal. Indian condiments are flavorful and well-seasoned. Condiments enhance and elevate the overall taste of the dish. There are endless varieties. We have put together our top picks of Indian condiments:

1. Mint Chutney is known as pudina chutney or hari (green) chutney. 

The greatest of all chutneys. This green delicacy is eaten with about everything from snacks to bread. This easy and no-cook chutney is simply made by blending together fresh mint leaves, cilantro leaves, green pepper, garlic, cumin, and lime juice. This pesto-like blend is cool, zesty, and spicy. 

Mint chutney can be added to yogurt and made into a yogurt sauce called raita or can be served by itself.  Samosas and pakoras are incomplete without mint chutney.

2. Tamarind (Imli) Chutney

Sweet and tangy is the way to describe the taste of tamarind chutney. Tamarind chutney is made in various ways. The most common way to make it is to take seedless tamarind pulp and cook it with jaggery, black salt, roasted cumin, and red chili powder. Cook until thickened to the point that it’s slightly syrupy. Let it cool down and store it in the refrigerator in a mason jar. It has a luscious texture and is sticky.

Tamarind chutney is used as a main topping for chaat and bhel puri as it elevates the taste.  Additionally, it is served with fried snacks like pani puri, samosas, aloo vada, kachori, and pakoras.

3. Cranberry Mango Chutney

Cranberry Mango chutney is a sweet and zesty succulent concoction of orange, lemon,  mango, cranberries,  garam masala, green chilies, star anise, and various spices. This special chutney can be made during the holiday season or can be made on special occasions. This delicious chutney can be eaten with meals, salads, papad, and crackers.

Our cranberry mango chutney recipe is a chef’s kiss. This is a guaranteed crowd-pleasing chutney that will leave your guests talking about it for days.

4. Coconut Chutney

Coconut chutney is an all-time favorite South Indian condiment. Dosa, idli, and uttapam are incomplete without delicious coconut chutney. Desiccated coconut, roasted gram lentils, cumin seeds, garlic clove, and lemon juice are blended together with warm water to make a smooth paste.  Mustard seeds, asafoetida, dried red chili peppers, and curry leaves are tempered and poured over the paste. 

Coconut chutney is aromatic, smooth, and creamy.  The taste of coconut chutney is divine and delightful.

5. Kachumber

Kachumber is the Indian version of pico de gallo (salsa).  This low-calorie side salad consists of chopped fresh onions, tomatoes, cucumber, green chilies, mint, and cilantro.  Lemon juice is added along with a pinch of salt,  black pepper, and roasted cumin powder. Kachumber is served as an accompaniment to rice and curry dishes.  The fresh veggies in kachumber help to tone down the heat in spicy dishes.  This colorful salad is served with most meals in restaurants.

6. Achar also known as Indian pickle

Every cuisine has a catchall condiment. Basically, when you add a spoonful of that one awesome sauce on anything and it is guaranteed to take your meal to the next level. For Indian cuisine, it’s achar.

Achar is spicy, peppery, and fiery.   Achar is made from mustard oil and an assortment of fruits, and vegetables that are preserved in brine.  The spices and herbs used in achar include red chili powder, dry mango powder (amchur), fenugreek seed, fennel seeds, nigella seed,  carom seeds, turmeric, and mustard seeds. Achar has a long shelf life.

There are countless variations of achar, every family has their own recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. Popular flavors of achar include Hyderabadi achar, raw mango achar, carrot achar, lemon pickle achar, and lahsun (garlic) achar.

Indian condiments add distinct flavor and out-of-the-ordinary taste to every bite. Indian condiments are an innovative way of adding more complex flavors to simple meals. They add excitement and add heat and a balance of spicy and tangy flavors that give that “chaat paata” taste to your food. Be sure to try the delicious condiments, the next time you have Indian food, your tastebuds will thank you.

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About the author:

Hira Shaikh is a die-hard Chicagoan residing in Texas. She is an avid foodie and travel enthusiast who also enjoys creating new recipes in the kitchen. Besides her corporate job, her sweet tooth and passion for food lure her to hunt down instagrammable restaurants and cafes to try and critique.

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