Chutney to the rescue
A Chennai techie has created a chutney recipe generator that lets you make the most of the ingredients at home. We invited a Santacruz-based copywriter to give it a shot.
Chennai-based software engineer Krish Ashok prefers to bring to the table an unnatural ingredient: science. "Most recipes require you to weigh proportions and follow specific instructions. Nobody actually weighs ingredients. I'm always trying to bring in some amount of engineering into this process to create a standard template, which one can follow to concoct their own recipe," he says. A product of this engineering is The Amaklamatic Chutney Recipe Generator — a Google excel sheet that allows you to choose ingredients at home to create a recipe based on the same. Although Ashok created it last year, another techie found it and refined the interface recently, turning it into a handy lockdown tool to innovate with what's available in the pantry.
"The idea was to have a database of ingredients — raw materials like carrots; items that need to be cooked like eggplants; a nutty element like peanuts or urad; herbs; salts; acids like vinegar or orange juice; and some sort of tempering. There's a growing list of choices for these categories that one can select to generate a recipe," he shares. However, he admits that a randomly generated recipe may not always work. "The idea is to inspire people with the ingredient list, get them to pick the right one with practice and give them new ideas," says the techie who is working on similar generators as prep for a book on food science.
Krish Ashok; Namrata Agarwal
What's 'amaklamatic', we ask? "It's derived from amakalam in Tamil, which means fantastic," he chuckles. Namrata Agarwal, a Santacruz-based copywriter trying to make most of the lockdown in the kitchen, gives the generator a shot to find out if it really works.
(From left) The onion-ginger chutney and tomato-garlic chutney that Agarwal made using the generator
"The system sounded fascinating and didn't disappoint when I tried it as it's based on the age-old principle of balancing flavours. The best part is leftovers in the fridge are sufficient to begin with," says Agarwal who picked tomato, garlic, ginger, peanuts, coriander, salt, lime juice and sugar. "The recipe required that I flame-grill the tomatoes. I love the aroma and complexity of flame-grilled tomatoes in sauces but had never tried it for a chutney. I could sauté the tomatoes, too, I suppose, but flame-grilling made the difference. Along with the sautéed garlic and raw ginger, it made for a delicious combination. Though the recipe says add 'some' peanuts, I'd say you can add one or two," she claims, adding that it goes well with snacks like samosas.
For the second chutney, Agarwal decided to use up some onions, the only other ingredient in abundance in her pantry right now. "The caramelised onions paired with ginger and peanuts was a new combination for me. I roasted the peanuts just till they had some crunch. The recipe required me to add some lemon juice to cut through the sweetness. The ginger complemented the caramelised onions," she shares, but adds that it would probably work better as a spread.
The generator provides specific instructions for every ingredient
What worked: The specific instructions for ingredients, for instance, flame-grilling the tomatoes, is of great help, says Agarwal. "It simplifies the process. The extensive list of options for vegetables can lead you to try something new and it's easy to use."
What didn't work: For the end result to be a hit, you must know what flavours you like and what ingredients work together, she says. "Although an unlimited number of chutneys can be created, only some will taste delicious," she adds.
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