A Spring Summer Recipe by Nandini Natasha Austin
Tomato Chaitini Photo Credit @judithRae
This sexy side dish is a staple in Mauritius my parent's homeland, and when it's made really well it often can steal the show. Its simplicity is what makes it so good. With a mix of fresh cilantro, onion, green chili peppers, lemon juice, and salt, you can never go wrong in making this chutney.
The cuisine of Mauritius is greatly influenced by its tropical location of the island as well as its cultural diversity which is a total melting pot. Mauritian cuisine is a unique blend of African, Chinese, European (mainly French) and Indian (mainly Bhojpuri) influences in the history of Mauritius.
Most of the dishes and culinary traditions are inspired by French culture, former African slaves, Indian workers, and Chinese migrants that arrived in the country during the 19th century. Over the years, communities found in Mauritius have adapted and mixed each other's cuisine to their liking, resulting in the development of Mauritian cuisine which is why I love it. It's a global mouthwatering cuisine.
Photo Credit @judithRae
In Ayurveda the Science of Life, they say that food tastes better if the chef is of a clear mind and that their love can even transfer into the food making it taste better. And in Mauritius, they speak Creole and French and the French word for Tomato is "Pomme D'amour' which translates to 'Apple of Love' which sounds so beautiful to me and this is a dish I love for sure.
And you know how every cuisine has a similar version of a dish? Well, this is it. In Mauritius, we call it 'Tomato Chatini' which means Tomato Chutney. It's similar to Mexican salsa but instead of jalapenos, we use Thai hot chile peppers to add that delicious heat.
This is my mum's version but there are hundreds of different recipes out there. some people add garlic others add lime juice instead of lemon juice, in fact, every Mauritian I know has a different version. So feel free to play around with it and make it your own. As always my recipes are a guide and are meant for you to tweak as taste is subjective.
Photo Credit @judithRae
Tomato chatini ( chutney) is usually served as a side dish as an accompaniment to a variety of foods. It pairs well with salty snack-type foods which we call 'Gadjacks' like tapas or Dim Sum. Sometimes the chutney is added inside a roti and dhal puree ( think wraps with curry) or even alongside a plate of vegetables and rice. Whatever it's served with, it adds another depth to the meal.
Tomatoes and other nightshades are considered very 'Rajasic' in Ayurveda which means that they can be overstimulating and even lead to stress and anxiety when consumed in excess. Also, their high acidity can aggravate Pitta and Vata leading to indigestion if consumed in excess. So be mindful of the amount you eat. This dish also has heat in it, so for Pittas types it's best to go easy on the heat and if don't like spicy omit the green chili peppers.
In Ayurveda green chilies are welcomed! as they are known to be good for the heart and have a good amount of beta-carotene, which helps in maintaining the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system. Reducing bad cholesterol and decreasing the chances of heart attack. Lucky for me as I love them and can't eat them on anything and everything yes I am a chili pepper addict, it's my drug of choice!
Me smoking a chili pepper ;)
Photo Credit @judithRae Nandini
So try this feel-good spring-summer recipe below that is made with love.
Tomato & Cilantro Chutney
PREP TIME. 10 mins. COOK TIME5 mins
SERVINGS. 6 CALORIES. 36 kcal
½ Small onion finely chopped
¼ Bunch coriander approx. 8 stems, chopped
3 Large firm tomatoes deseed and finely chopped
1 Chilli thinly sliced
1 tsp Lemon juice alternatively, used apple cider vinegar
Combine onion, coriander, tomatoes, chili, and lemon juice in a salad bowl, then mix well.
Drizzle with oil then season with salt and pepper to taste.*
The key is to get to is to get juicy ripe tomatoes, always fresh, never canned! You want them sweet or soft so they are bursting with flavor.
If preparing in advance, only add salt before serving to keep fresh as it will draw liquid out.