Mustard-flavored chutney with yam (Hindi: suran/jimikand or ole) as its base – that’s ole chutney, a recipe traditionally made in Bihari homes.
Bihari food, especially the rustic kind, seems to be getting into ‘endangered species’ zone. Perhaps a lack of visibility in the media, the absence of restaurant networks that could help such food catch on (as they have done with Tamil or Punjabi cuisine), and the difficulty of preparing a few of the dishes have contributed to this. Ole chutney isn’t made often enough even in Bihari kitchens nowadays. The variety of yam found in Bihar tends to cause an itching sensation while handling, so we find it convenient to replace yam with potato – as I did in this recipe of aloo chutney.
While making khad ki sabzi, I discovered to my delight that yam in Bangalore causes no such discomforts. And that spurred a call to my mom to get the recipe of ole chutney. Here’s a recreation of how she makes it.
- Yam – 250 grams
- Green chilies – 2
- Limes* – 4
- Ginger** – 1-inch piece (optional)
- Red chili powder – 1/2 teaspoon (more if you want it spicier)
- Turmeric powder – a pinch
- Salt – 1/2 teaspoon (adjust to taste)
- Mustard seeds*** – 1/2 tablespoon
- Mustard oil – 3 tablespoons
*The Indian variety of limes (kagazi nimbu) are about an inch in diameter – 4 limes gave about 1/3 cup of lime juice.
**I was out of ginger when I made the chutney, so I skipped it and it turned out fine.
***Preferably yellow mustard seeds, which are milder than black. If using black mustard seeds, reduce the quantity to 1/3 tablespoon.
Peel and wash yam well. [Yam over here is humongous in size, so take a slice that is about 250 grams.]
Pressure cook yam in two cups of water, for 3 whistles (or till it reaches a mashable state).
After the pressure cooker has cooled enough for the lid to come off, unlock the lid, take the yam out gently, taking care that it does not disintegrate in the water it was boiled in.
Mash the boiled yam.
In the picture above: yam (boiled and mashed), green chilies, lime slices, yellow mustard seeds.
Chop green chilies and grate ginger. Halve limes.
To the mashed yam, add the dry spices: turmeric powder, red chili powder and salt. Add grated ginger and chopped green chilies.
Blend everything well.
In a grinder, grind mustard seeds to powder.
Heat mustard oil in a tadka ladle.
When the oil reaches smoking point, take the tadka ladle off the heat. Add the ground mustard powder to the hot oil.
Give a quick stir with a dry spoon. Pour the contents of the tadka ladle into the mashed yam.
Add freshly squeezed lime juice into the mashed yam.
Whisk it all together. Check and adjust salt and seasonings.
Ole chutney is ready. Transfer to clean dry non-reactive (glass/ceramic) containers.
At this stage, ole chutney will have an extremely strong, pungent flavor, and you might wonder (as I did) if you should have cut back on the lime and mustard. Don’t be alarmed. Let the chutney stand for 2-3 days before you start eating it. If you can put the chutney container out in the sunlight for a few hours on the first day, even better.
Ole chutney will mature and its flavors will mellow in two days. This chutney stays good for a couple of weeks if refrigerated.
Ole chutney is a popular accompaniment for pitha – steamed rice flour dumplings with chana dal filling. It also pairs well with kachori and dal-puri.
My meal today – ole chutney with chapatis, sambhar and spinach saag:
Check out other Bihari recipes on The Steaming Pot.
Note the absence of the diacritic in ‘ole’ – the ‘e’ is pronounced without inflection, to rhyme with ‘role’.