Mumbai Green Sauce

I lived in Mumbai for a year, back when we Westerners called it Bombay. I recently acquired My Bombay Kitchen, which describes itself as Parsi home cooking. (Parsis are the descendants of Zoroastrians who fled Persia in about 937 A.D. and settled on the west Coast of India, finally concentrating in Mumbai.)  The recipes in the book are very much like the ones my Hindu neighbors prepared regularly, as much Mumbai as Parsi, and each time I prepare one I am brought back to a flood of memories of my time there and the neighbors who taught me about India and everyday life.

This green sauce, more properly a chutney, smells like my neighbors’ kitchens – coriander (cilantro), mint, coconut, garlic – being ground almost daily as an accompaniment to ordinary meals or to become the base of the rich curries and snacks that came from every kitchen. Serve it on a thali (a metal tray on which many meals are served) beside other savory curries; add besan (chick pea) flour to it to make a batter for shrimp.   My neighbors would grind the ingredients on a masala stone, a thick granite slab with a roughened surface. Squatting beside the stone in their saris, women would roll over the ingredients with a granite “rolling pin” until the ingredients made a fine paste, filling the room with an aroma that bespoke India to me.

The granite slab was far too heavy to bring home.  Now I grind in a food processor, although it doesn’t create the same paste-like texture it has that unmistakable fragrance. I may someday get a wet-dry grinder that, I understand, creates chutneys with the same texture as the beloved granite slab.  And I use the chutney in all sorts of ways that my neighbors wouldn’t have dreamed of.

Mumbai Green Sauce

½ cup grated fresh or frozen unsweetened coconut, or 1/3 cup unsweetened dry coconut (see Note)
1 cup (packed) fresh coriander, both stems and leaves
¼ teaspoon ground cumin seed
12 fresh mint leaves
1-3 green chilies, seeded – depending on your taste
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped.
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Juice of 1 lime
1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar

If you are using dry coconut, soak it in warm water for ½ hour.  Drain coconut, saving soaking liquid.  Put all ingredients in food processor (or wet dry grinder if you are so lucky) and pulse until it is as smooth as possible.  Add a little of the soaking liquid or water if you need to.  But don’t add too much, you want this to be a little stiff, not a gravy.  This chutney makes 9 tablespoons, at 1.5 grams of fat/tablespoon.  It keeps well in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator for about a week.

NOTE: I grew up in Miami, where coconuts grew on trees and fresh coconuts were easy to find.  But in the frigid northwest, nary a coconut palm can be seen.  I have difficulty finding fresh coconut – when I buy them they tend to be sour or moldy. Dry coconut is not ideal, but it works.


And how did I use this divine chutney (which I now make almost weekly)?

I put it on some plain pan-seared steelhead trout and boiled potatoes to dress them up.


I jazzed up poached eggs on toast (with a little light butter).


I used it on sandwiches, from roast beef (where it didn’t work so well) to veggie (where it knocked my socks off. ) I added it to non-fat yogurt to make the dressing for a tomato and cucumber salad I took for lunch.


And I put it in an egg substitute omelet with a bit of goat cheese.



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I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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