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A chutney for Basant – Tomato & Date Chutney

Aaj rang hai hey mann rang hai ri, Moray Mehboob key Ghar rang hai ri
Sajan milaavra, Sajan milaavra, Sajan milaavra moray aangan ko
Aaj rang hai.

This beautiful Qawwali by “Amir Khusroo” has an hitherto unknown legend behind it. They say that the famous Sufi saint “Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliyah” was terribly distressed by the death of his nephew. In despair, he gave up everything and spent all his time at his nephew’s grave. One of his ardent and most loved disciple ‘Amir Khusroo’ was so pained to see his master in such a state that he set out to find a solution to end his sorrow. While walking around the village, he saw several women wearing bright yellow clothes celebrating Basant (Spring).

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The crazy disciple quickly adorned himself in a yellow dress with a chunni (head scarf) and sang his most famous qawwali “Sakal Basant ayo ri” for his Khwajaji (teacher). Seeing his favourite disciple go to such lengths for him Auliyah cheered up and came out of his dejected state. Hence, every year on the day of “Basant” Sufi shrines of Chisti order around India celebrate this day with a lot of love and prayers for the Khwaja by singing songs sung by the student who loved him the most.

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Auliyah preached love as the eternal way to meet God. He believed that only by surrendering yourself to your beloved without asking any questions will you attain love. And he couldn’t be further from the truth. Only when we completely immerse ourselves in our passions do we achieve great heights. So on this day of “Basant Panchami,”, I surrendered myself to my great love of food by making this delicious “Tomato & Date Chutney”. While Tomatoes were not even around at the time when this story took place, Dates were a much loved and needed source of nourishment. Hence this deliciously lip-smacking Chutney, which I served with various other things. The way the juicy ripe tomatoes do the bidding of the sweet mushy Dates is nothing short of love. Because the end of the day, it is love that makes us do things that we will never do for anything or anyone else. Basant Mubarak ho.

 

Recipe (Cooking time 30 minutes, serves a few greedy people)

6 – 7 juicy big ripe Tomatoes (get the juiciest ones you can)

12 – 15 Medjool Dates

4 Red Chillies

1 ½ tsp Panch Phoron (Bengali 5 spice mix)

1 tbsp Mustard Oil

One tsp Cumin powder

One tsp Sugar

Salt to taste

½ tsp red chilli powder or paprika powder

One tsp freshly grated Ginger (DO NOT and I mean do not use bottled Ginger)

Wash and roughly chop the Tomatoes. Remove the pits from the dates and roughly chop them too.

Heat oil in a pan and since we are using Mustard oil let it reach smoking point. Add the Panchphoron and the Red chillies.

Once they start to splutter, add the Tomatoes and cook till they are almost mushy.

Now add the Dates and mix well. Add ½ cup of warm water and let the dates completely melt away with the Tomatoes.

Add Salt, Sugar, Ginger, Red chilli powder and cook till everything has gelled in a thick mushy consistency.

Sprinkle the cumin powder and let it cool. You can store the chutney in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 10 days.

 

Recipe courtesy : The Bengal Cookbook

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bhavna

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