Sunday, October 30, 2005


This article is part of a special series called "The A-Z of Marathi food". India is the land of diversity. Each of the 28 states in India has a unique cuisine but the Indian food served in restaurants represents only a tiny fraction of our culinary heritage. I come from the western Indian state of Maharashtra. Capital: Bombay (Mumbai). Population: 96 million (only 11 countries in the world have a population higher than Maharashtra). Language: Marathi. Traditional Marathi food is earthy and humble, diverse and very tasty. It also remains relatively unknown to non-marathis. Its time to change that. I invite you to join me on an alphabetical culinary tour of my state. We will go through the letters A to Z and make a dish with each letter to show-case Marathi cuisine.

H is for Hirvi Chutney.

This week finds us at the letter "H"...not the most inspiring letter for Marathi food. It does stand for a few delicious things though, such as halwa, that lovely dessert found in most Indian and Mid-Eastern cuisines. The most common halwas in Marathi food are doodhi halwa (made with white gourd, a member of the squash family) and gajar (carrot) halwa. Being Diwali, it is the season of halwa but this weekend turned out to be too busy work-wise so it will have to wait.
The other "H" word that I love is a green legume called harbara. These look like miniature bright green chickpeas. Fresh harbara is quite a seasonal delicacy in my home-town: you buy it in bunches, still within its pod. After shelling it, the fresh harbara can be roasted and sprinkled with salt, red chilli powder and lemon juice to give a delicious snack called "chatpate". Dried harbara is available in Indian grocery stores. I love making harbara chaat by boiling the harbara and tossing it with some minced onion, tomato, boiled potato, chillies, salt and lemon juice. What a tasty and healthy snack.
"H" also stands for a color: Hirava meaning green. So today I decided to make my favorite "hirava" food: Hiravi chutney or green chutney. This is a very versatile chutney that can be put together in minutes: a simple blend of hot green chillies and fresh herbs (which also happen to be green). Bombay is street-food paradise, and a favorite street food is sandwiches made with this green chutney, as we shall make today. My mom calls them "Raju sandwich-walla sandwiches"...I suppose she knew a vendor named Raju who made these! These sandwiches are really the healthiest of street foods, being
a) not fried, which is a miracle in the street food world
b) full of fresh raw veggies.
Hiravi (Green) Chutney

2 cups packed fresh cilantro
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup roughly chopped onion
2 green chillies
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
1 tbsp yogurt or sour cream
1 tsp cumin powder
salt to taste
Method: Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend with a little water to get a thick chutney. That's it!

To make sandwiches, spread softened butter, then a layer of chutney on a slice of bread. Top with thinly sliced tomato and cucumber, then season with salt and pepper. Cover with another slice, also spread with butter and chutney. This is delicious lunch-box or picnic food. The butter usually keeps the bread from getting soggy.
Variations on the sandwich:
a) Try other veggies, such as beets, radishes and boiled potato.
b) Add a slice of cheese.
c) Grill the sandwich. Mmm :)
That concludes the letter "H". See you next week with "I"! As usual, suggestions are much-appreciated!


  1. Oooh, did I love those sandwiches or what... street food is SO gorgeous! :) Just cant get the same taste at home (I cant, at least)

    Diwali greetings to you and yours, Nupur, and bestest wishes for happiness and prosperity.

  2. Happy diwali Gal ,
    those sandwiches look really good. And you say they are streetfood. If some one else had said that, I'd have thought , they were yanking my chain. Its a good thing I trust you :)

  3. Thanks for the simple lunch idea :)

  4. Hi Nupur - I've had green chutney before (and enjoy it very much), but never made it. I would never have thought to use it as a sandwich spread, but your sandwich sounds just wonderful!

  5. Thanks, Clare!

    HI Shammi, Diwali wishes to you too :) I so agree that it's hard to duplicate the taste of street food, but it does not stop me from trying!

    Hi Bilbo, Happy diwali to you too! I swear these are sold at stalls all over bombay :)

    Hi Priyamvada, hope you get a chance to try it out!

    Hi Cathy, this chutney is too simple to make...the thicker version makes for a great sandwich spread and by thinning it with water or yogurt, you have a great dip!

  6. Hi Nupur,

    Wish you a Happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year!

    This site is great! Especially so because I finally found something that covers some Marathi food. Good for you!

    For "I", how about Imruti (the orange colored deep fried sweet)? Can't think of anything else.


  7. Hi Nupur, What a coincidence.I posted something recently on Coriander chutney...Yours sounds very nice and I'm going to try it soon.

  8. Nupur,
    Just wanted to thank you. Made the chutney sandwich for dinner along with some tomato soup. We (and a friend who was over) thought it was delicious.

    So thank you :)


  9. Look who finally made your green chutney! It's been on my mind since way back in September! I fiddled with it a bit (only because of what I had on hand) but suspect/hope that an Indian home cook would approve!

  10. Dear Nupur,

    I would like to share with you a recipe which my sister gave me for green chutney which tastes just like the streetside sandwich wallas in Bombay.

    Grind togather, cilantro, green chilies, curry leaves, salt, cumin seeds, black pepper, lime juice. Yes, just like your pav bhaji has no onions, this one has no ginger/mint, but curry leaves. I grind raw cumin and black pepper first then add green chilies and curry leaves (5-6 sprigs for 1 bunch of coriander) and finally coriander with salt and lime juice. Sometimes, I add dalia (roasted chana dal) alongwith cumin seeds, for increasing the quantity, but then I would add more green chilies for the zing.


  11. hi. i was looking for maharashtrian recipes and stumbled upon on your blog. it's very authentic. keep up the good work.


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