Try Making These 5 Condiments That Are Kitchen Staples

Rather than going to the store every month to stock up in your favourite condiments, why not spend an afternoon making them in bulk, in varieties, and storing them for future use? The time spent on this is well worth it, with zero preservatives or additives in them, and cooking in batches saves you the hassle of doing it every day. All you need are a few kitchen staples like spices and perishables like tomato, mayonnaise, and imli, a blender and a whisk. 

Making your own condiments and chutneys allows you to see and control the ingredients and flavours. It also means always having tasty accompaniments to your dishes or snacks on hand without preservatives. With a little advance preparation, you can enjoy fresh homemade condiments for weeks.

Here are some staples from Indian kitchens and fusion food that you won’t need to buy once you make and store them properly:

1. Imli Chutney

One of the classic favourites that makes an appearance in many Indian homes and dishes is the Imli or tamarind chutney. It adds a delightful tangy flavour to the blandest of dishes. Choose a deep pan which can hold a week’s worth of chutney. To make it, soak peeled tamarind in warm water for 30 minutes to soften it. Then strain out the tamarind juice. In a pan, heat some oil, add some mustard seeds, whole red chillies, haldi and hing (in that order). Then add the liquid that is the imli juice and jaggery to sweeten it up a bit, to the pan, and simmer it until it thickens. Blending it smooth in a blender makes for a lovely, spreadable or dip-like consistency. Imli chutney generally keeps well in the fridge for about a week. 

2. Dhaniya-Pudina Chutney

Another staple in every Indian pantry is the coriander-mint chutney. To make this, blend de-rooted fresh coriander, mint leaves, whole green chillies, roasted cumin, lemon juice, salt, a knob or two of ginger and garlic cloves. Make sure you add enough water, preferable iced before blending. The flavour will be fresh not unlike your store bought pudina chutney. This chutney does well with most savoury Indian snacks like samosa and pakodas or just between sandwiches as a sauce. It generally lasts 5-6 days in an airtight jar.

3. Chilli Garlic Chutney

Turn up the heat with this extra spicy condiment- the chilli garlic chutney. Dried red chilies, garlic, vinegar, water and salt come together in the blender to create this intensely fiery blend. It goes well with momos, as a sauce in noodles and if you dare as a burger or sandwich spread as well. This one will last at least a week in the fridge. 

4. Tomato Chutney- South Indian Style

Tomato prices are officially down, so this is a good time to buy them in bulk and make this chutney!  Heat oil in a deep pan, add red chillies and sauté urad daal then add chopped onions and a tiny know of ginger. Proceed to add the chopped tomatoes and sauté again till they are soft. Add haldi, imli, salt and coconut, and again sauté it well. Let it cool in the pan then transfer to a blender. Adding water as needed. Now for the final touch, the tempering. Heat oil and add mustard seeds, urad dal, chillies and curry leaves, allowing to splutter. Pour over chutney. Great with rice, idli and dosa or as a dip, this one retains freshness and flavours for about a week.

5. Garlic Aioli

Mix mayonnaise with a couple of garlic cloves, a dash of lemon juice, salt and crushed black pepper. Whisk the ingredients together for mixing it well. This dip is perfect for veggies or sandwiches. It maintains freshness for around 7-10 days. This condiment does not do well with freezing, avoid freezing at all costs to ensure the mayonnaise does not spoil. 

Storage Tips

Given busy our lives are lives are and also how hot it is around the country most of the time, cooking can be a hassle so making these condiments and chutneys in bulk and storing them should help you prolong their shelf life. Here are some tips: 

Jars: Use sterilised glass jars with tight-fitting lids to pack the condiments while hot. This will help create a vacuum seal. 

Cooling: Allow the contents of the jar to cool completely before sealing to ensure a proper vacuum. Do not tighten lids on hot jars or they might not seal properly. 

Labelling: Don't forget to label each jar with the name and date or just add a note somewhere about its packing date.

Refrigeration: Depending on the constituents, condiments can usually be stored in the fridge for up to 2 months. Perform the sniff test and then taste check to see if the condiment is still good.

Freezing: For longer storage of up to 6 months, freeze condiments in jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Thaw it overnight in the fridge before using.

Storage containers: Alternatives to glass jars include plastic containers or ziplock bags. The key is make it air-free like how the glass jars ensure vacuum sealing. 

Organisation: Store jars or containers at the back of fridge shelves where it's coolest. Rotate the stock often so the older items are used first. 

Check for moulds: If mould (fungus) forms on the surface of a condiment, discard the entire contents as mould toxins may have spread. Proper sealing is key to preventing mould growth.

With a few hours spent making large batches, you'll be stocked with flavourful homemade condiments for your cooking. Storing them properly in sterilised jars or containers helps them last. With less time spent in the kitchen later, you can enjoy tasty, preservative-free condiments for many meals to come. Give these recipes a try to add excitement to your cooking.