Relish of Indian pickle with tomato (Anba wa tamata))

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OK, here’s another recipe from Delights From The Garden Of Eden, the Iraqi cookbook by Nawal Nasrallah – and a simpler recipe you’ll never find.

Seems obvious, too, now that I’ve tried it.

I wonder if Indians use pickles in this way?

We use commercial Indian pickles at home sparingly on our Indian cooking. But this relish takes such products to a whole new level of usefulness.

Gosh, I reckon it’d go great in sandwiches, along with curries and rice and all sorts of things.

I reckon, too, it’ll keep in the fridge but I suspect fresh is best with this.

Nawal’s recipe uses mango pickle but I used what we had – a tangy lime and ginger pickle.

I had it slathered on bread as a snack while I was cooking something else.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup store-bought Indian pickle of your choice

1/2 cup chopped ripe tomatoes.

METHOD

1. Mix both ingredients together gent;y.

2. Eat.

Indi Chutneys

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Indi Chutneys, Shop 4, 203 Ballarat Rd, West Footscray. Phone: 9317 8624

Despite having eaten a lot of thalis, I have never before been presented with anything like the two tubes – one orange, the other a pale green – that accompany my non-vegetarian thali at Indi Chutneys.

I’m told they’re variously called, depending on your language of choice, wafers, bourugulu or gottalu.

Some online sleuthing turns up some Indian-food-related links when searching for those terms, but I remain not much more enlightened. A search for “Indian wafer tubes” turns up a whole results that refer to sweet wafer biscuit thingies of the sort that come from Europe.

What I do know is that the names of these “wafer tubes” and pondering their origins is a whole lot more interesting than eating them.

For these turn out to be identical in texture, crunch and (un)flavour to the prawn crackers dispensed at so many eateries of Asian persuasion.

The rest of my thali ($10.95)?

Gosh, that’s really fine.

A good chicken curry of greenish hue and mild spiciness.

Some rich, glorious dal of magnificent saltiness.

And equally salty lamb curry with a richly deep brown gravy.

Some fine raita with just the right amount of vegetable crunch (onions, I think).

And, of course, plenty of rice.

The restaurant that has provided my thali is in a shop once inhabited by Southern Spice and more recently another Indian eats business so short-lived its name has been and gone from my mind.

It is also opposite the newish Footscray branch of Biryani House, thus giving this stretch of Ballarat Rd/Gordon St an Indian vibe to rival that of upper Barkly St.

As such, I am eager to get a handle on what’s happening here by visiting Indi Chutneys, but soon realise I am on very familiar ground.

For Indi Chutneys shares the same ownership and management with Indi Hots of superb biryanis fame in Footscray.

The menu at the new branch is more extensive – there’s some rudimentary dosas and Indo-Chinese items.

But mostly it seems to inhabit the same entirely gorgeous realm of no-fuss Indian basics at cheap-as-chips prices as its older sibling.

And I like that a lot – just as much as I like the idea that there’s somewhere else to get one of those biryanis.

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