Mozambican-Inspired Garlic Chili Chutney

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

During our weekend in Mozambique, the non-stop train of freshly caught seafood that we ate was enhanced by the presence of a magical green chile sauce. I put it on my eggs in the morning, on my fish at night, I loved it as much if not more than the deserted beach sunrise view. I spent meals tasting it, raving about it, and smelling it so I could recreate it at home. The owners of our small resort were Mozambican Indians and on the last day I asked the lady what she put in her magic sauce. She told me ‘just green chiles, garlic, vinegar, oil, and cilantro.’ So, I give you the best sauce to spice up any dish from your breakfast to your enchiladas to a samosa.

You will need:

50 gms green chiles

3 teaspoons freshly crushed garlic (more to taste)

A big handful of cilantro

about 80 ml grape-seed or other flavor-less oil

A few dashes of white wine vinegar, to taste

Roughly chop the chillies and blend all of the ingredients in a food processor. Add vinegar and oil to your preferred consistency (the sauce on Macaneta Island was downright soupy).

Hotel Polana for Nana

My maternal grandfather’s name is Dr. Tej Bahadur Singh which means, roughly, sharp and brave lion. He and his name are both pretty bad ass. Married to my grandmother at the age of 18, he went to the UK to study at Sheffield University where he earned a PhD in metallurgy. He became the Chairman of an aluminum company for more than 30 years, and in his retirement he became and officer for the United Nations. For his assignment he and my grandmother moved to Maputo, Mozambique for 4 years in the 80’s. During his first month in the city he stayed at Hotel Polana. At my request on our way out of Mozambique we stopped for lunch there, some delicious sushi, and I channeled my grandpa.

One of his favorite activities is to sit around his fireplace in New Delhi and drink a few strong whiskies and talk about tiger hunts of days past. It is one of my favorite activities too.

Impressions from Mozambique

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

Mozambique is a small country filled with many miles of under-developed (and therefore extra-beautiful) beaches. We made it to our own slice of paradise, Macaneta Island, after a treacherous and impressive journey- we took a small car through crowded streets, to barely-marked roads, across an estuary on a rickety ferry boat, to an island with rain-destroyed dirt roads. P was a champion driver and after arriving at our destination we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset and beer. To relax after our stress-filled journey we went on a midnight swim, drank a few bottles of wine, and woke up to the sounds of the ocean and drank coffee on a nearly deserted beach. Mozambique is quite similar to India with less pollution, better weather, and a bit less dynamism (perhaps because there aren’t a billion people there).

The sunset picture was the view from the back of our thatched hut over the estuary, I astoundingly did not take a picture of our pristine beach, probably because the time spent on it was midday – the time of the worst photography light. Fisherman walked along the shore trying to sell us giant snappers, rock lobsters, crabs and the like. While we weren’t equipped to do our own cooking we enjoyed more than our fair share of fresh seafood, Rachel lived through a paralyzing jellyfish sting, I ate bowls and bowls of green chile chutney, we swam day and night, debated books and authors, came up with a sure-to-be hit show called Tiger Talk, and the trip was truly one of the most memorable thus far , which I think says a lot.

Cheers, Mozambique!