Hello again, everybody. We’re finally nearing the end of my Reading Chilli Fest review backlog but, rest assured, some of the best are still to come. As well as one of the weirdest:
Today’s product is a pachardi – Something that I’d never even heard of, before the event. Looking into it, though, it appears to be akin to a chutney or pickle and is traditionally either served as a side or used as the base of a curry. Much as an achari would use a regular chutney or one might use Mr Naga, if they’re looking for serious heat.
Where the pachadi sets itself apart, though, is in its high coconut content and the use of oil, rather than acid, for preservation. And, when made fresh, it’s often blended with yoghurt to form the keralan equivalent of a raita.
So, that’s what Manjira’s set out to popularise, here in the west – Quite literally a different side of indian cooking. But how does her “Hot Garlic” version of the “South Indian Chutney” hold up?
Normally, I’d start my review with a commentary on her label but today’s is pretty simple. Just three colours of text against three coloured stripes, intended to be the orange, white and green of the indian flag but more closely resembling hungary’s, if you ask me. Something that I’d rather not judge Manjira on, given that it could just as easily be the fault of whatever print shop she goes to.
No, what I’d much rather talk about is this spoonful of shredded garlic, coriander, coconut and oil:
A spoonful with a tonne of texture, despite its fine shredding, yet not the overpowering aroma that I would have expected. Its garlic, despite being ingredient number one, proves pretty mild on the nose, getting almost lost beneath the coconut-mellowed, leafy scent of the corriander.
It’s quite the surprise but certainly not an unpleasant one. Unlike the one on my tongue when I taste it.
Despite everything that its maker says about not adding sugar, this “chutney” is sweet. Shockingly so.
This is not a product that I could put in sandwiches or have on crackers with cheese and, while it makes the most gorgeous garlic naans and raita replacements, I feel like that sweetness massively limits its use as a curry base.
I like my madras and bhuna on the “dry” side and can only really see Manjira’s pachadi working in a saag or a passanda. Or, perhaps, the creamier dishes of the keralan cuisine that it, itself, has roots in.
Looking beyond the sweetness, it’s also somewhat salty, albeit in a more manageable way, and the hit of garlic definitely comes through more in its flavour. However, the coriander does still make for a strong partner to it and the coconut base is still there to soften everything out. Plus, there’s a pleasant dash of citrus from added lemon.
Flavours that all point towards prawns and use as a simple frying sauce. That, my friends, is where I think that today’s product is really going to shine.
And, while I can’t taste the chilli in the slightest, its punch is ever-present in the form of a strong, throaty
that dies down to something more medium in cooking or when bulked out with something like, say, the pasta that I had for taste testing.
It’s a decent pesto alternative, especially when paired with parmesan, but it’s certainly not on the same level as my usual mix of Fiendfyre and a more traditional sort. Overall, I’d say that this south indian chef’s condiment has potential but that the recipe could use refinement. Especially in regards to cutting down the coconut sweetness of it.
Here’s what Manjira’s Hot Garlic Pachadi contains:
Garlic (20%), Coconut, Sunflower Oil, Coconut Milk, Coriander, Lemon Juice, salt, chillies
And, while she doesn’t state what chillies on the label, she seemed perfectly happy to call them scotch bonnets when asked by the various attendees of Reading Chilli Fest.