Sunday, December 04, 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.

L is for Lasun Chutney.

We continue our journey with the letter "L". It is certainly the letter for spicy, fiery foods, representing lasun (garlic) and lavang (cloves). Cloves are not merely a spice, but an important part of the first-aid kit: toothaches can be relieved by chewing on cloves (the clove oil has a rapid numbing effect). Another fiery "L" food is laal rassa or red curry (the same concept as the egg rassa I made earlier. The most exciting "L" is definitely lonche or pickles, and these come in an infinite variety. In the days before refrigeration, pickles were an all-important way to store vegetables for the leaner months; the high salt content of pickles keep them from spoiling. Unlike "pickles" in the US, which generally refer to veggies packed in salt and vinegar, Indian pickles are choc-a-bloc with spices. They come in all flavors: sweet, spicy, sour and every combination thereof. If ever you are in an Indian home and someone mentions home-made pickles, I suggest you lay on the charm and get a bottle for yourself, for every family will have their unique recipe. What about "L" foods in the produce section: I can think of two, limbu or lemons (an important candidate for making pickles!) and laal bhopla or pumpkin, a hardy vegetable that is found in even the most arid regions of the state. Deccanheffalump recently wrote a beautiful post about this veggie along with a tasty, easy step-by-step recipe. After these spicy food, we need a sweet food to end with, and that would be ladoo, those sweet dessert balls that also come in infinite variety. Some popular kinds are besan ladoo, made with chickpea flour and rava ladoo, made with toasted cream-of-wheat.
For our "L" dish today, I had to go with the flow and make something spicy, and so I am making a signature rustic Marathi condiment, lasun chutney or garlic chutney. For many rural folk in Maharashtra, when food budgets are tight, the humble chutney is much more than just a condiment. When only thick dry flatbreads (bhakri) are available for sustenance, the lasun chutney and a side of raw onions makes the meal palatable. For helping millions of people through lean times, the lasun chutney gets pride of place in the Marathi A-Z.

Lasun Chutney

(makes about 1 cup)
1/3 cup dry shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/3 cup peanuts
10 cloves garlic
5 dried red chillies
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp dry tamarind
salt to taste
Method: Dry roast each ingredient (except tamarind and salt) seperately on low heat till toasted. Grind all ingredients together to form the chutney. Store in a dry container.

This chutney can be served as a condiment with almost any Indian meal. I love it simply as a topping with bread and butter! See you next week for a look at the "M" of Marathi food.


  1. I am loving your series. I love the idea of eating this chutney with rotis and onion. A simple, light meal...

    Is the chutney like a dry spice mix or paste-like?

  2. Nupur, must try this one. This sounds like a "milder" version of what my mother makes. I call hers the "dynamite chutney" and it'ss eaten with oodles of ghee.

  3. Hi Mika, this is more of a dry chutney which can be stored for long periods, although the tamarind can give it a hint of moisture, depending on how dry the tamarind you use is.
    This chutney can also be mixed with yogurt for an instant yummy raita.

    Hi Faffer, its a very versatile chutney actually, it can be made as mild or spicy as u like by varying the number of chillies.
    you can eat it with ghee or even yogurt.

  4. Hi Nupur,

    I love your A-Z series and the special emphasis on snack items :) What kind of grinder do you use for this chutney? I usually use a coffee grinder for most dry ingredients. Is there a better workaround? Thanks for sharing!

  5. D'you suppose this chutney would be good with rice and ghee? have you tried it, Nupur?

  6. Hi Garam Masala, I did use a coffee grinder for this, which worked fine BUT since the garlic is not fully dry, the grinder was a little hard to clean after use. I would recommend using some small food processor attachment if you have own.

    Hi Shammi, yes, I have eaten it many times with rice and ghee and it is delicious! Another great combo is with yogurt and rice.

    Hi Courtney, yeah, when you are in agony with a throbbing toothache, cloves seem like a miracle! I've been there too :)

  7. OOH, beauitful picture, and a wonderful sounding chutney. As always, thanks so much for a great recipe!


  8. Aayghe ! this recipe is yummy , hey do u have the recipe for the HOT HOT chutney powder that maharashtrians have with roti.


  9. Love your series and tried out the black-eyed peans bhaji. I added some ginger to it and it reminded me of the 'saaru' rasam made from horse gram in Mangalore area.

    The Lasun Chutney reminds me of Gujarat. Our maid used to make a similar chutney - with just garlic, tamarind, salt and red chilli or chilli powder powder all pounded together. This was a staple and eaten everyday. My mother who cant stand garlic used to buy the maid a toothpaste every month and ask her to brush her teeth before she came to our house!

    But relatives that visited us used to love this stuff and our maid always made it lots of it for them to take back.

  10. Rachael, thanks! Glad you like it!

    Hi Priya, I'm trying to think what hot chutney powder you are referring to...the hottest thing ever is not really a powder but a semi-paste, called "mirchi cha thecha" which is basically chillies ground up together. If that is not hot, I don't know what is :)!!

    Hi A. Peg, very true, many Marathi and Gujarati recipes overlap...these two cultures are so very influenced by each other.
    You definitely need mouthwash after this one! Thanks for sharing your story :)

  11. Hie Nupur,
    Itz amazing the way cooking features in your blogs. Am a marathi married to an Andhra brahmin. As you must'ev heard, they have a huge assortment of diffrent "podis" that are an absolute must during any meals. Thanks to you, Lasun chutney has found its way in the "must haves". :-)

  12. I am sure this will taste great with hot rice and ghee....j and its good for health too.

  13. Hi Nupur, I love your A-Z series. When I visited my wife's many relatives in Rajkot, they made a Gujarati version of this chutney and served it with the ragda patties, which you have a great sounding recipe for that I've been planning to try. Their version was more like the version akaround peg described, basically garlic, red chili powder and salt. Super spicy and garlicky, but I couldn't stop eating it or the ragda patties.

  14. Hey, thanks for commenting on my first attempt to make something that is authentically Indian. I have had so much fun learning more about Indian food from you, Indira, VK, Sailu, Meena, and others.

  15. Hi Nupur,

    Just stopped by to send in a request. Since you have such a great collection of traditional Maharashtrian cooking... could you consider posting something on Misal/Usal ? I am positive that what I make and call Misal is not traditional... I would love to know how it is supposed to be made.
    Thank you!

  16. Hi Snehal, thats a marriage of two foodie cultures :) I LOVE those andhra podis...and yeah, lasun chutney fits right in!
    Snehal, for some great authentic andhra cuisine, I would totally urge you to check out Indira's blog:

  17. Hi Sailu, yeah, I try and use garlic often, given its health benefits.

    Hi Brett, thanks for stopping by! This stuff really is so potent and addictive. I love the idea of trying it with ragda to give that a try.

    Hi Kalyn, its such a pleasure for me to see Indian food becoming so popular in the US! I am sure you will become an expert at Indian cooking soon!

    Hi Garam Masala, Misal/Usal is coming in just a few hang in there :)

  18. was looking for lahsun chuttney for long time, although this is not the one am looking for but still it sounds good so will try (must try.. maybe this sunday)
    What am looking is not dry and is a paste one, with no coconut in it, if u know that one pls tell me that one also :)

  19. Hi Nupur,

    Priya here from Canada.

    I was on the look out for lasun chutney recipe and thanx for this wonderful one. I am originally from Mumbai and have missed eating vada pav with lasun chutney.

    One doubt - does the lasun also have to be roasted?

    Thanx once again.

  20. Priya, thanks for visiting. I do roast the garlic too, because I find raw garlic a little overwhelming. Try roasting it lightly and if necessary, add a couple of drops of oil to prevent the garlic from sticking to the pan. Hope this helps!

  21. Hi Nupur,tried your lasun chutney....I am also from majarashtra and a big fan of groundnut and lasun chutney..Your recipe rocks girl..

  22. And L is also for "Laar" or drool :)
    I LOOOOVE garlic!


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