On a recent trip to Orissa (see page 274), spent driving almost all day every day for nearly two weeks in the mountains in the southern part of the state, I had consistently good food, but unfortunately I learned very few of the classic Oriyan dishes. Ranjan, my driver and guide, was an incredible companion when it came to tracking down anything related to food and agriculture, even if it meant stopping the car (for the twentieth time in a morning) to walk across a field to identify a type of legume we hadn’t seen before, but he was at a complete loss when it came to describing how a particular Oriyan dish might be made. He’d always look at me as if to say, “It’s good, just eat it.”
The day we had this tomato chutney in the town of Jeypore, I liked it so much that I kept asking and asking until finally Ranjan went into the kitchen and requested that the cook come out. The cook explained and Ranjan translated, and after I at last had good notes and had said thank you to the cook, Ranjan again looked over at me and gave me the look: “It’s good, just eat it.”
The chutney has a coarsely pureed texture, like a cooked salsa, a great aroma from the curry leaves, a little sweetness from the simmered onions, and a fair amount of heat from the ginger and chiles. PHOTOGRAPH ON PAGE 291
Serve as you would a tomato salsa: as a dip for crackers or flatbreads, or as a moistening condiment sauce to accompany rice or grilled meat (Cumin-Coriander Beef Patties, page 268, for example).