What do you do when you need a side dish to serve with dosas or rotis, but don’t have much in your pantry? I often end up making Bombay Chutney in that case.
For the uninitiated, Bombay Chutney is a simple but very flavourful dish made with gram flour aka besan. It is quite a common accompaniment to breakfast in Tamil Nadu, and you will find it being served in several eateries. It takes bare minutes to prepare, making it the perfect go-to dish on busy weekdays and lazy weekends alike….or on hot, hot, hot summer days when you don’t want to spend hours slogging over the stove. Did I tell you that it tastes lovely too?
Why is this called Bombay Chutney, though? I haven’t found a satisfactory answer to that yet, but I am guessing it is because of the similarities this chutney has to the Maharashtrian Pitla, a runny side dish also made using gram flour. The recipe for pitla somehow trickled down south, a few ingredients got shuffled here and there, and Bombay Chutney was born. Bombay Chutney is Tamil Nadu’s version of pitla, if I may put it that way.
Come to think of it, several Indian states have a variation of the gram flour chutney. There’s the pitla, of course. You will find a slightly drier version of the same in Maharashtra and in the coastal regions of Karnataka, called Zunka. Gujarat has a similar, slightly sweet Kadhi Chutney, which is a popular accompaniment to snacks like khaman and fafda, called so because of its similar preparation style to kadhi. Andhra Pradesh has a tamarind-flavoured version called Senaga Pindi Pachadi.
Today, I present to you the Tamilian version of gram flour chutney, Bombay Chutney or Kadala Maavu Chutney the way it has always been made in our family. We don’t use buttermilk or garlic in it, ingredients which sometimes find their way into this chutney. Ours is quite a simple but robust affair.
Filled with the goodness of gram flour, this is a low-oil recipe that is vegan by its very nature. Skip the asafoetida, and it becomes a gluten-free dish as well!
Without further ado, here’s presenting to you the recipe for Bombay Chutney or Kadala Maavu Chutney.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
- 3 cups water
- 1/4 cup gram flour (besan)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 pinches of asafoetida
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 2 green chillies
- 1 small tomato
- 1 small onion
- A 1-inch piece of ginger
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- A dash of red chilli powder
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
1. Peel the ginger and chop very finely. Keep aside.
2. Chop the tomato and onion finely. Keep aside.
3. Chop the green chillies into large pieces. Keep aside.
4. Take the water in a large mixing bowl. Add in the gram flour, salt to taste, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Whisk well, ensuring there are no lumps. Keep aside.
5. Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Add the cumin seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves and green chilli pieces. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, taking care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn.
6. Add the chopped onion and ginger. Saute till the onion starts turning brown.
7. Now, add the chopped tomatoes to the pan. Sprinkle a little water and cook on high heat till the tomatoes turn mushy.
8. Now, turn the flame to medium. Add the gram flour slurry to the pan. Cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes or till the chutney starts thickening. Stir intermittently.
9. Switch off the gas when the Bombay Chutney has thickened but is still quite runny. It will thicken further on cooling.
10. Serve immediately with dosas, parathas or rotis, garnished with finely chopped fresh coriander.
1. For best results, use good-quality gram flour that is free of any odours or insects.
2. This Kadala Maavu Chutney thickens quite a bit when it cools. So, it is best to keep it runny to start with. Also, for this very reason, this chutney is best served immediately.
3. You can add a glug of buttermilk to the Bombay Chutney to make it more flavourful. You might want to skip the tomato, in that case.
4. You can skip the tomato in the above Bombay Chutney recipe and squeeze in some lemon at the end instead.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!
This recipe is for the A-Z Recipe Challenge group that I am part of. Every alternate month, members of the group present recipes using ingredients in alphabetical order. This month, we are cooking using ingredients from the letter G, and I chose ‘gram flour’ as my star ingredient.