Parsi Green Chutney

Lili Chatni

In some lucky houses, lili chatni appears on the table at every meal. It’s that addictive, like salt and lime. Nearly every community in India has some kind of green chutney made with fresh coriander, mint, green chiles, and lime, but we think ours is best, as do many non-Parsis. I use my mother’s formula, but she likes things sweet rather than sour, so I adjust away from sugar toward acid. Green chutney is one of those things you want to have left over. It keeps for at least a week refrigerated and can be successfully thawed. (Note, I didn’t say “frozen.” Anything can be successfully frozen.) In my mother’s house lili chatni was ground on a masala stone, the scent of the bruised ingredients so sharp and strong that they made you giddy with anticipation. Next to a stone, a wet-dry grinder gives the best results.

This recipe makes about a cup of lili chatni, enough to serve with khara ras chaval, mild and savory soupy meat over fluffy white rice. For Fish in Banana-Leaf Parcels and for Shirin Sabavala’s fabulous Green Chutney Soufflé, you will need to double the recipe. If you’re using a Multigrinder, the junior Sumeet so practical for everyday use, successive small batches are unbelievably quick and easy to put together. I can’t recommend this tool enough.

We love green chutney with Creamy Panir, Bellwether Farms ricotta, or Manouri cheese from Greece and just-warmed whole wheat tortillas or Chapatis.

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup grated fresh or frozen coconut
  • 1 cup fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves and stems
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds, pounded
  • 12 fresh mint leaves
  • 3 green chiles
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) salt
  • Juice of lime (or more)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar

Method

  • If you’re starting with fresh coconut, remove the tough brown rind using a heavy-duty peeler or a short, sharp knife. Grate it manually or cut it up into small pieces and throw it into a food processor or wet-dry grinder with the fresh coriander, cumin, mint, chiles, and garlic. Add salt, starting with 1 teaspoon, lime juice to taste, and sugar. If you’re using a food processor, add just enough water to keep the blades moving. Ideally, the chutney should be smooth, thick, and solid enough to stand on a plate. Although the taste won’t be any different, the chutney you get with a food processor will be thinner and coarser in texture. Taste the chutney. You want it to be hot, sour, sweet, and salty.
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