Aalo Bukara Chutney ( Dry Plum Chutney )
To me, this chutney is associated with wedding food. You see celebrations like weddings say a lot about the culture and tradition of the geographical location. There was a time when in the Province of Punjab, city of Lahore to be more precise, the menu at weddings was sort of fixed. There was Pulao (Pilaf) , Qorma , palak gosht (spinach with mutton), Firni with simple salad, raita and this luscious Aalo Bukaray ke chutney. As a kid I wasn’t much thrilled to see this fruit chutney but all grown ups were huge fan, that includes my mom too! Time has changed, wedding celebrations have changed, food at such ceramonies has changed but this particular chutney is still at salad tables, without any modification, without losing its charm, without losing its admirers! People still like to enjoy this special condiment as-is.
I found a couple of basics about this chutney when I was like 12 or 13 and it was all quite astonishing for a young brain to comprehend like this chutney is made with sokha aalo bukhara (dried plums) like we use in Biryani Masala which made me wonder how such dehydrated fruit get softened and puffed up? How these sour plums become sweet? How this thick syrup is formed? Little brains ask toughest questions. Later I found out that dried plums were soaked in water overnight to get them softened and then sweetened with a lot of sugar plus a little addition of food color to brighten it up.
I don’t see overnight soaking as a must. In fact, I don’t soak them at all. Once they are heated with water and cooked for a while, they will soften perfectly. Once the fruit is soft and “hydrated”, add sugar and cook for few more minutes to get a syrup like consistency. Season with salt and red chilli powder to balance flavors. Once it is almost done,add a splash of vinegar to improve shelf life. Melon seeds, raisins, almonds etc are for texture and color contrast. Adding food color is optional.
Aalo Bukhara and water ratio is usually 1 : 3 which means for 1 cup of aalo bukara plus 3 cups of water. I usually add about two and a half of water because I prefer the chutney not-too-syrupy. Make sure that aalo bukara is well hydrated before adding sugar otherwise there is a chance that dried fruit remains under cooked. Sugar ratio is 1 :1 meaning for 1 cup of aalo bukara we add 1 cup of sugar. There will be enough water in the pot when sugar is added to form syrup. Do not stir a lot after sugar addition as it might break or damage aalo bukaray. Chutney gets thicker when cool down to room temperature. I do not add color to the chutney.
Aalo Bukara Chutney ( Dried Plum Chutney )
A sweet and sour chutney that goes well with any desi food.
- 1 cup sokha aalo bukara, thoroughly washed (dried plum)
- 3 cups water ( I add about 2½ cups of water)
- 3-4 pods green cardamoms
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ tsp red chilli powder
- 1¼ tsp white vinegar
- 1½ tbsp melon seeds
In a non reactive pan, combine sokha aalo bukara with water and green cardamoms.
Place over low flame and cook for about 15 minutes or till fruit is all puffed up and softened.
Add in sugar, salt and red chilli powder and continue to cook for another 10 minutes.
Stir once or twice or hold the pot with pot holders and sway the pot. Too much stirring might damage the softened plums.
Once thick syrup is formed, add in vinegar and melon seeds, cook for 30 seconds, switch the flame off.
Do not cover the pot.
Do not over cook. Syrup will thicken once the mixture is cool down.
Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
Add a pinch of red or orange color if you want to.
Do not add sugar until fruit is well hydrate.
Feel free to add chopped nuts once chutney is ready.
Keep refrigerated in an airtight jar.