Chutney (a kind of dip) is a necessary accompaniment to a number of Indian dishes. Its variety and versatility is quite unmatched. It comes in a multitude of colors — from white coconut chutney to brown tamarind chutney, from red peanut chutney to green mint and coriander chutney. It can be enjoyed in many forms, whether as a traditional dip, a spread or even mixed in with vegetables or rice. And when it comes to taste, one could draw a complex four-dimensional plot and still find it hard to capture the nuances of spicy, sweet, salty and tangy flavors coming together in various proportions to create infinitely different variations.
Chai has been bastardized (and popularized) by Starbucks but is essentially a mix of black tea, water, milk and sugar, and is always enjoyed hot. That is not to say it is boring — there are so many permutations of flavors that one could try a new one every day of the month. It can be made with ginger to add bite, cardamom for fragrance, fresh green tea leaves to add warmth or some mint for coolness. Its diverse combination of flavors is only comparable to the universality of occasions it can be had in — it’s an excuse to catch-up with friends, and also a companion when you’re alone preparing for an exam the next day.
It is heaven on earth when both these amazing creations can be enjoyed together. A rainy afternoon would offer the perfect setting to indulge in warm pakodas (fried savory dough balls) with some green chutney while sipping hot chai. An evening after a long day at work calls for a quick serving of sev puri with tamarind chutney, with a cup of hot chai. There’s nothing that gets you in the Sunday morning mood like some crisp dosas, with coconut chutney and, you guessed it, piping-hot chai.
Some matches may be made in heaven, but Chutney and Chai are both made right here in our kitchen by my beautiful wife, Namrata. I’m glad I get to enjoy them!