Pickles, chutneys, sauces and dips are usually not eaten on their own but they form an important part of the menu. They enhance the flavour of other foods and make them more appetising.
Indian cooking is adept at turning different fruits and vegetables - ranging from mangoes and limes to tomatoes, carrots and radishes - into an amazing variety of pickles and chutneys. Even greens like spinach find their way into tasty chutneys!
‘Pickling’ means ‘preserving’. The vegetable or fruit is immersed in brine, or in a mixture of condiments and oil, so that it remains unspoilt for a long duration. The ideal pickling season is summer when home-made pickles are prepared and kept in the sun for at least three weeks before use. The masala consists of acidic ingredients besides spices and these retard the bacterial grown while the oil and salt act as preservatives. Pickles will remain fresh and unspoilt as long as they do not come into contact with moisture. Preservatives like citric acid and sodium benzoate are used in the commercially produced pickles. Sterilized porcelain or glass jars with airtight lids are used for storage. To sterilize the jars or bottles, rinse with boiling water and dry in the sun. Alternatively, you can heat in a water bath on medium heat for fifteen minutes, dry and use them. Chutney originated in India and was introduced to the western world by the British when they took it back with them to England, along with some of the other popular Indian dishes like curries. In India, chutney is often made for instant consumption without the use of any preservative. But when it is to be stored, then a preservative like vinegar or citric acid is added. Chutney can be dry or wet, thick and chunky or smooth. Dry chutney comes in the form of coarse or smooth powder. Then again it can be either cooked or uncooked. Chillies form an integral part of most chutney recipes. The taste could range from very sweet to very spicy. A sauce is either a liquid or semi-solid which is used in the preparation of other foods. Normally a sauce is not consumed by itself but used to add flavour, moisture and visual appeal to a dish. ‘Sauce’ is a French word derived from the Latin salsus, which means ‘salted’. In French cuisine sauces have been used since the Middle Ages and one can find hundreds of sauces in their culinary repertoire.
Sauces can be freshly-prepared, like Béchamel Sauce or like Soy or Worcestershire sauce, can be bought ready-made. Salad dressings are sauces that are used to enhance salads. In practice sauces are classified into four families each of which has a mother sauce from which other derivatives are made. They are Béchamel, based on milk thickened with a white roux (Roux is the thickening agent used in four of the mother sauces. It is a cooked mixture of equal parts of wheat flour and fat, traditionally clarified butter.); Espagnole, based on brown stock (usually veal or the meat of young calf), thickened with a brown roux; Velouté, based on a white stock, thickened with a blonde roux and Allemande, based on velouté sauce, thickened with egg yolks and heavy cream.
A dip or dipping sauce literally means a type of condiment in which other foods are dipped and consumed. Dips are commonly used for finger foods such as pita bread, dumplings, raw vegetables fingers (crudités), fried pieces of seafood or meat, potato or tortilla chips and other foods that can be easily held. In this book, you will find a wide range of recipes that will appeal to a wide variety of tastes.
There are spicy and sweet chutneys like Dal Thuvayal, Green Tomato Chutney, Fig and Date Chutney, Sweet Mango Chutney and Plum Chutney; tongue-tickling pickles such as Gunda Keri, Methamba, Keri ki Launjee and Goan Chilli Pickle; sauces like Sweet Chilli Sauce, Sichuan Sauce and Black Bean Sauce; and last but not least, dips such as Melting Cheese Dip, Thousand Island Dip and Salsa Fresca!