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The 5 Most Popular Indian Condiments

When you sit down to eat at an Indian restaurant, chances are you’ll get a few small pots of colourful sauces.

One of these is sweet. One is tangy. And one will, no doubt burn your socks off.

These flavour profiles developed with culture and changed as things like chutney and mango pickles became popular around the world. They are essential complements to any curry, samosa, or basmati and yoghurt dishes.

Keep reading to discover 5 of the most popular Indian condiments to add to your rotation.

Achaa

Achaar is the Indian form of pickles. In fact, it’s simply referred to as ‘pickle’. The difference, however, is the method of preparation. Western pickles are typically veggies steeped in a brine of salt, vinegar, and sugar. Indian pickles have a unique flavour due to the preserving method. They’re also are good for your health.

Achaar is soaked in mustard oil and a combination of herbs and spices. Mustard seed, fenugreek, and fennel seeds act as the preservative for fruits or veggies. If you are expecting the western style, this pickle may be an acquired taste.

There’s a great variety of atchars from mango to eggplant, chilli and dried fruit. Contemporary twists to the existing classics bring about new flavor profiles such as pickled sour figs. ( sour figs are indigenous to South Africa)

The most popular achaar is mango. The mangos are picked in the summer while they are still green and tart. They are preserved in jars and set out in the sun to ferment. Mango achaar is a must have for basmati rice and yoghurt dishes.

The Indian meals end on a sweet note with the addition of this wonderful condiment.

Chutney

Chutney is probably the most popular of the Indian sauces. There are many combinations of the spicy or sweet condiment. You can prepare it as smooth and creamy or thick and chunky.

A popular chutney is Imli chutney. Imli is Tamarind chutney. It’s spicy, sweet, and tangy and served with savoury snacks like samosas or sabudana tikki.

Afraid to branch out too far? Start with simple tomato chutney. Its flavours are unique but familiar enough to encourage sampling. Try it with basmati rice or on pasta.

Paan

This is a popular condiment throughout India and all of southeast Asia that consists of areca nut and dried leaves.

The leaves are not only tasty, they contain a number of health benefits — to include a high Vitamin C content and the ability to help you melt fat away.

Kachumber

Kachumber rhymes with cucumber and also includes it. Kachumbar is a side salad similar to cole slaw or pico de gallo. They serve the purpose of relieving the pallet from a seriously spicy meal.

Standard kachumbar contains chopped cucumber, onions, tomatoes, lime, and cilantro. This side salad also comes in a yoghurt-based version. Serve it with a curry, as a dip, or as a side to a juicy burger.

Chamba Chukh

Chamba chukh is a spicy, fermented condiment made from pickled chillies. It’s  distinct flavour derives from mustard oil.

Chamba chukh is a meal-time staple in Northern Indian. Serve it as a sauce, a dip or make it into a paste for cooking.

Indian Condiments Are Staples at the Table

When making an Indian inspired meal, the sauces are the icing on the cake. Indian condiments are there for, an indispensable part of the traditional cuisine. They refresh the pallet and compliment and improve a flavour profile of lunch, dinner, or snacks.

For a cabinetful of condiment ideas, click here.

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