While there is no dearth of off-beat dishes in Bengal, you should really take out some time and hear their name sometimes. Take Petayi Parotha for instance, the English translation of the same would be a paratha that is beaten to pulp, then there’s Doodh Cola, a summer beverage comprising a cola drink mixed with milk. ‘Plastic Chutney’ is another such condiment from Bengal that grabs more eyeballs for it peculiar name, rather than chutney itself. Plastic chutney is a raw papaya chutney, with a glossy texture and finish. When raw papaya is cooked with sugar syrup, it obtains a lovely translucent sheen, almost resembling ‘plastic’ hence the name. Even the iconic tomato chutney has a little bit of a glass-like finish, but raw papaya chutney really looks a work of art.

Bengalis share a unique penchant of making chutneys and pickles out of anything. Raw papaya is one superfood that can be cooked in myriad ways, even consumed boiled and mashed, if need be, but in chutney, it simply weaves magic. Since Bengali food is served in courses, these peculiar chutneys also help serve as a palate cleanser of sorts. Therefore, you can still suggest eliminating a bhaja (fritter) or two from a typical Bengali platter, but never do away with the chutneys, is what we say.

 

Here’s how you can make the ‘Plastic Chutney’ at home.  

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shredded raw papaya
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 ½ cups of sugar  
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 7-8 raisins
  • 8-9 cashews
  • 1 tsp Panch Phoron
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • Mustard oil to cook
  • Salt to taste

Method:


  1. Heat oil in a pan. Reduce the flame to medium.
  2. Throw in the red chillies and panch phoron. Sautee for a minute.  
  3. Now add the papaya, sautee for 2-3 minutes and pour water.
  4. Let it cook for 3-4 minutes on low flame until water reduces. Do not dry it up.
  5. Once the papaya is cooked and obtains that glossy sheen, add salt, sugar, raisins and cashews. Mix everything well and close lid.
  6. Once the water is soaked, you will be able to see a better colour and texture of the chutney. Again, do not let the water dry up completely. Add roasted jeera and lime juice and mix.  
  7. Turn off the flame, let the chutney cool. Serve with rice, dal, fish, chicken.  


You can also use it as a dip or a spread.