Chutneys in India are a key condiment in home cooking for more reasons than one. This Naga-style fresh winter green peas chutney is known to be the king of all Naga condiments and is layered with the flavours of sweet green peas, coriander and fermented fish.
Most cuisine in Nagaland, the North Eastern part of India, is known for the use of foraged ingredients, fermented fish or soybeans and the use of locally available meat. The food is known to have minimal use of oil or spices and generally relies on fresh ingredients to contribute flavours to a particular dish. A typical Naga meal consists of rice, vegetables, fish or pork and a spicy or savoury condiment on the side to add a boost of taste to the food that is generally steamed or boiled. Techniques like sun-drying, pickling and fermenting produce allow the locals to preserve their food for a longer period of time, thereby helping in combatting harsh weather conditions or unseen calamities.
The Naga style green peas chutney is interesting and complex; for the uninitiated, one can usually expect an element of smokiness, heightened umami flavours contributed by fermented ingredients and a fresh earthiness that comes from slight to no cooking of some of the key ingredients. Although the traditional recipe uses fermented fish as one of the contributing flavour factors, you can also swap that with akhuni (fermented soybean paste), to make a vegetarian version. Best eaten with rice, this chutney can also be paired with crudites for a healthy snack or eaten with rice crackers and lavash.
Note: Ensure that you do not use any water while grinding. If your fermented fish is pre-seasoned, go easy on the salt.