I’ve got so much to share in this post!
Let’s start at the beginning. I was contacted a few weeks ago by Johar’s Original Bollywood Chutneys asking me if I’d like to review their Hot Cilantro Chutney (maybe from reading my blog they noticed my love of spice and ethnic cuisines).
So in the interest of full disclosure – I was provided a free jar of the chutney, but was not compensated in any other way. All views, opinions and recipes are mine (mwahahahaha!)
I’ll admit, I was definitely drawn to the spice but also a bit worried. I’m always up for giving any food a shot, but I know from experiences at Indian restaurants that I usually don’t care for the green mint/cilantro chutney they provide (although I’m all over the tamarind and spicy onion one, yum!).
I have this weird dislike of mint in anything, as a lamb garnish, in chocolate, in Vietnamese bun, you name it and I probably don’t like it (although I don’t mind it in gum or mouthwash) but I figured I love cilantro and since this was pure cilantro without any mint I’d give it a shot.
First off, let’s start with the cilantro chutney itself. Click here or on the picture to get linked to their site (and yes the product picture also came from their site).
I love the fact that it’s made locally (in New York) and from a family recipe. The ingredient list is even better, simple with ingredients I can pronounce: cilantro, water, onion, hot green chili, salt, citric acid, spices and natural coloring.
So I opened the jar to start my review. It’s a bright dark green (if that makes any sense) and has a smooth consistency, not chunky at all. Honestly, I was almost a bit worried because I’m used to chunkier chutneys but I pressed on.
The product smells like bright cilantro, a scent I particularly adore. Am I the only one who smells cilantro and other herbs at the grocery store before deciding on which one to purchase? I wanted that fresh scent and the chutney delivered.
Dipping a spoon in, I took my first taste – it’s smooth and the cilantro flavor really comes through, which I’ve got to say I’m a huge fan of (I feel so bad for those people with the gene that makes cilantro taste like soap to them). After the first hit of cilantro flavor, you get a smattering of salt and then the spice and heat from the green chilies kicks in to all smooth out into one happy little mouthfeel.
Long story short – I loved it. If you like cilantro and spice, you’ll like this chutney.
But we can’t stop there, this is a food blog after all. I had asked him what sort of foods he pictured the chutney being used on and some of the recommended matches were Mexican, Indian and Thai (three of my favorite cuisines) and I just got stuck on doing a sort of Mexican and Indian fusion (my husband’s two favorite cuisines) all set off with the hot cilantro chutney.
I finally settled on attempting a Recado Rojo Jalfrezi and Refried Bean Pakoras.
Alright let’s start with Jalfrezi (I have a more traditional recipe for it here). Jalfrezi is an Indian curry version of a Chinese stir-fry, made with peppers, onions and tomatoes. It seemed like the perfect base to adapt to a Mexican style dish by using the same base vegetables and then tweaking the spices. I echoed the typical naan by serving it with whole wheat tortillas.
Recado rojo is typical of Yucatecan cuisine and usually rubbed over meats such as chicken, pork or fish then cooked pibil style (literally pit cooking) or grilled. Either way it gives the meat a gorgeous red color and flavor which seemed like a perfect match for the chicken I was planning to use in my Mexican style jalfrezi.
As far as the eating it goes I went the more traditional naan style route by tearing off chunks of tortilla to scoop up the dish while my husband wrapped his and ate it in a semi burrito/taco style. Either way works fabulously. Of course, I topped the whole dish off by using the hot cilantro chutney which was excellent to really finish off the dish.
I also love, love, love pakoras (go here for Devaki at Weave a Thousand Flavor’s excellent step by step palak pakora post) and I wondered whether I could make refried bean pakoras using pintos and again changing the traditional spices to really round out my meal.
And you know what? You can, and it…is…good. My husband jokingly said that I’m required to make them once a week (although he was probably also being semi-serious/hopeful). The pinto beans, onion, green chilies and spices combined with traditional besan flour and technique makes a wonderful fusion. Once again, topping it with the hot cilantro chutney just took the dish up an extra notch.
Overall, I’d have to say that this ranks right up there at the top of favorite meals I’ve made. And my brain is in overdrive working furiously at other uses for the chutney (I’m picturing sandwiches, stir fries, quesadillas, you name it)
Prep time does not include marinating time.
- 1 Tbsp achiote powder or Annatto seeds
- ½ Tbsp black Peppercorns
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp allspice (or 3 whole allspice berries)
- ½ tsp coriander
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar or sour orange juice
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs – cut into ¾ in chunks
- 2 tsp canola oil
- 2 bell peppers, green and red, thinly sliced
- 2 jalapenos, diced (de-seed for less heat or only use 1 jalapeno)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup chicken stock
- 1 ½ tsp Mexican style chili powder
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp Mexican oregano
- ½ tsp smoked paprika or chipotle chile powder (use smoked paprika for less heat)
- ¼ tsp coriander
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- 1 lime, cut into wedge
- 4 fat free flour tortillas
- If you’re using whole annatto seeds instead of powder, finely grind the annatto seeds. Annatto seeds are very hard so you may need to let an electric spice grinder run for a longer period. Combine ground annatto with oregano through minced garlic. Mix well, then slowly add in vinegar until a paste is formed. Rub paste all over cut chicken and marinate in fridge for 1 – 2 hours.
- Heat 2 tsp canola oil in large pan. Add in onion, garlic and jalapeno. Sauté over medium high heat for 3 – 4 minutes or until softened. Add in chicken and continue to sauté for another 4 – 5 minutes or until chicken is well browned.
- Meanwhile add bell peppers, tomatoes with juice, chicken stock and remaining seasonings to pan. Sauté for an additional minute just to get everything incorporated. Cover, reduce heat to medium/medium-low and allow to simmer on the stovetop for 10 – 15 minutes until chicken is cooked through and bell peppers have softened.
- Uncover, increase heat to medium high and allow to boil so the sauce will thicken and reduce for another 2 – 5 minutes (or until as dry or wet as you like).
- Note: Jalfrezi is traditionally a dry curry, but we personally prefer wet curries. I let mine thicken for an additional 2 minutes because I wanted it wet. If you prefer dry, just let it go until more of the liquid has cooked off.
- Serve with tortillas and lime wedges on the side.
Cook time is per batch. Be careful not to do more than 2 to 3 pakoras per batch.
- 1 (14.5 oz) can pinto beans
- 1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
- ½ cup queso cotija or feta (you want a cheese that doesn’t really melt)
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- ½ cup extra fine chickpea flour (aka besan flour or gram flour)
- ½ Tbsp Mexican style chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- ½ tsp cardamom
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- ½ - 3/4 cup cold water (may use a little less or a little more)
- Oil, for frying
- Drain and rinse pinto beans. Dry the beans off as much as possible.
- In a small bowl mix together pinto beans, green chilies, queso cotija and the small onion until well combined. Use a fork or potato mashed and mash all of it together. You do want to leave it slightly chunky, but at the same time you want everything to be combined.
- In another bowl, mix chickpea flour along with seasonings (Mexican style chili powder through salt and pepper).
- Add bean mix to flour and stir until the bean mix is well coated with the seasoned flour. Slowly add water until batter has formed a thick paste. Whisk well (you want to get more air incorporated into the batter so it’s lighter). Taste and adjust any seasonings (you want a highly seasoned batter so don’t be afraid to add more seasoning).
- Heat oil in medium skillet over medium high heat until hot.
- Either use a spoon or ice cream/cookie scoop and drop 2 – 3 small balls, being careful not to overcrowd the pan, of the bean paste into the hot oil, then cook until crispy and golden brown on both sides, about 2 – 3 minutes per side (you'll have to do multiple batches). Serve with cilantro chutney on top.