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A matter of 'Spice Thyme' - to cover a million grains of rice!

The first time I made this recipe, my Iphone 6 was still halfway through its 2 year contract, and the only container available to stash it away was nowhere near photogenic. And perhaps, there was a sliver of uncertainty whether I wanted to post the recipe without giving it a second shot (which wasn't going to happen until I finished off the first batch). Nevertheless I faithfully recorded the proportions on my laptop, and let the whole recipe slip back to the recesses of my memory centers.

The first batch got polished off soon enough, mainly by my other half  'G', who seemed to absolutely love it with fresh hot plain rice drizzled with sesame oil. Chutney powders by definition, tend to be 'reserves' in a 'Tambrahm' home (as opposed to Telugu households where they are a mainstay), and needless to say, the relatively extended storage period gave me an idea about how long I could store the powdered blend at room temperature - and yes, I'm a scientist by training and long term storage is an implicit part of all my recipe testing. 

I kept buying fresh sprigs of thyme in installments and faithfully drying them out in the oven and packing the tiny dried leaves in airtight bags until I had enough for the recipe, but it turned out that the other ingredients ended up being re-purposed (my post from last week is one such example). It finally took an afternoon of forced home-stay, thanks to my car giving out on me,  that got me into a compulsive creative mode. and while it took me a while to find the recipe I had scribbled down, it was a spot on recreation of the original. 

Spice-Thyme Chutney Powder.
You need:
  • 1 cup fresh thyme leaves packed (stripped from the stems)
  • 1/2 cup Tuvar dal / split Pigeon peas
  • 1/3 cup urad dal
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 6-8 Dried red chiles
  • 15-20 whole peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup dried Omani Lime
  • Salt to taste
Spread out the sprigs of thyme in a single layer on a  baking sheet lined with parchment and dry out completely at the lowest temperature in the Settings (175 F / 80 C), strip the leaves off the stems and measure out one packed cup.

Toast the tuvar and urad dals in a skillet on low heat until they emit a nutty aroma. transfer to a bowl and allow to cool. Similarly, toast the coriander and the whole peppercorns until the coriander turns to a golden brown color. Lastly toast the arbol chiles along with the salt (Its a tradition I blindly follow, its supposed to minimize any acrid fumes emitted from the chiles. I find it also reduces any residual moisture from the salt). Allow to cool completely

Combine and powder the ingredients together in a dry grinder (I use my workhorse Vitamix for the purpose), the dry jar used to grind flour is perfectly suited for such dry chutney applications. Sift though a sieve to ensure uniformity of the blend You may need to put the lentils through another turn in the blender to grind them down to size.

Store in an airtight jar. To serve, drizzle hot melted ghee over freshly prepared plain rice and sprinkle as much of the chutney powder as you desire. Fold in the rice to coat uniformly and serve with a side of Papad or potato chips.

Bon Appetit!


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