Saturday, May 29, 2010

Spicy Tomato Bell Pepper Chutney IV

I know very well that exercise of any type is beneficial not only for physical but for mental health as well. But why oh why does it require all the will power that I could muster to actually get to doing it. What works for me is swimming 1000 meters, 3 times a week. I also walk when the weather is good but that is a bonus not a regular routine. The maximum benefit is derived when I do my activity in the morning. I remain in a positive frame of mind besides being energetic through the day. Nobody should underestimate the positive effects of serotonin.

Even when armed with this knowledge it is quiet an effort. I find several excuses - bad weather, wait till the evening to take the kids along, work to be completed in the morning etc etc. But all of these are just that excuses.

For me the benefits to my mental frame of mind far exceeds any of the other reasons. The first two laps are the hardest and then it is hard to stop. But there is no denying the effort to keep it going. If you have a companion that is the best thing with one encouraging the other. For me walking works best with a companion but swimming is a solo experience. All of my best ideas and solutions to problems come while swimming.

There is no beating around the bush the fact that life as an expat is lonely in many ways. I know of many people who keep their day jobs outside of the home more as an escape from loneliness than any other lofty goals of making it in the corporate world. Not to belittle the fact that working is a must for many of us too for economic reasons. Exercising is to me a cheapest and most effective way to keep the psychiatrist out of your lives.

I certainly empathize with people who absolutely need to exercise for a healthier physical body. There are several people I see every day either walking or running and I admire them wholeheartedly.

What are your techniques to keep up your exercise routing? Do you exercise for physical or mental health?

Before we move on. This is a long weekend in the US for Memorial day where we honor the men and women of the armed forces who sacrificed their lives for their country. Lets spare a moment of thought for them.

If you think I have an obsession with this Tomato and bell pepper combination and making chutneys you are not mistaken. The juiciness of the tomatoes and the length of time the tomato is sauteed all make a difference to the texture and taste of the chutney. If in this version of the chutney the tomato was concentrated by using sun dried tomatoes and sauteing the fresh tomatoes till they lost all the moisture. The version I am presenting today accentuates the fresh taste of tomatoes by sauteing them only to loosen the juices. This can be used a sauce for cooking chicken or any hardy vegetable for a fantastic taste. I used a few red chilies more than actually needed and the taste was fiery. Adjust accordingly.

Bell Peppers are not my go to vegetable in stir fries but I use them extensively because they are readily available throughout the year. Using them in chutneys excites me more than using them in curries.

Spicy tomato and bell pepper chutney
1. 3 bell peppers cored and chopped (I used red, orange and yellow - use green if you do not have the colorful ones)
2. 2 Juicy red tomatoes (roma would not be the tomato of choice here, I used vine ripened tomato)
3. 5 red chilies (makes for a very very spicy chutney, 3 should be sufficient)
4. 1/2 red onion chopped - 1/2 cup
5. 1/2 tbsp channa dal
6. 1 tsp coriander seeds, few cumin seeds, few pepper corns
7. 1/2 inch piece of tamarind
8. salt to taste
9. 1 tsp oil

1. In a saute pan add a drop or two of oil and saute the channa dal till it starts to turn brown, add in the coriander, cumin and pepper corns and saute for a few more minutes. Set aside.
2. In the same pan heat the rest of the oil and saute the onions till they turn brown, add in the tamarind and chopped bell peppers and let them saute till they are cooked completely (about 15-20 minutes)
3. Now add the chopped tomatoes and saute for 2-3 minutes till they start to wilt. Mix in the salt. Let cool completely.
4. Blend without adding extra water to a smooth puree.

Great with idlis or dosais and even as a sauce for cooking chicken.


  1. I wish I could stick to exercising or walking a wee bit more regularly. I love chutneys of all kinds and this one looks like a keeper ISG. :-)

  2. I am not a good swimmer, well just a splasher i think :-) in the summer when we go to the beach i try to swim but not so far or in a strtch :-)
    The only chutney i make is coconut chutney, this looks good, love the colour too.
    S did her final violin exams in front of 12 jury and she got 90% huhhest in the violin bunch :-) oh and I went to watch her :-)

  3. Not only this chutney, you talk about exercise also quite often :) That's good. I'm doing yoga these days and I can feel a small difference on some days - I'll have to keep at it, I guess. Am getting back to the gym too next month.

  4. Believe it or not, I think exercise in itself can be very addictive to sustain itself. I think there is a critical period of time, if you stick to regular routine for that long, the serotonin addiction (for want of a better term) kicks in itself and it makes you not forget the gym for a long time... or atleast thats what my experience has been. though, keeping the exercise time as a solo time to think things thru always helps me keep the routine going..

  5. Walking is an excellent physical exercise, i also love to play badminton and you wouldnt believe it I sometimes do skipping as well :)
    For mind i think yoga and pranayam is very good. I do practice yoga when I am stressed out or simply visit temple!

  6. Beautiful and aromatic chutney..i do walk twice or once a week for 2kms apart from this i wont do specially anything

  7. That combination is superb! and the colours are marvellous...

    Its amazing your swimming capabilities - thats one thing I regret that my parents never thought it important for me to learn swimming. I have never been able to get over my fear and learn to swim - so this summer I have enrolled my 5 year old and thankfully she has taken to it like a fish! :)


  8. Sharmila, it is hard that much I know. And the chutney it is a keeper for sure.

    HC, that is great Congrats to Shyama and kudos to you for being to watch it.

    Sra, I feel that I am not doing enough to convey the benefits of exercising more in terms of mental health, hence the repeated posts.

    PJ, so true but it is a good kind of high.

    Parita, skipping sounds like fun too, anything I am game for any physical activity.

    Priya, yes that is good. Anything absolutely any form of physical activity helps.

    Miri, thanks to my grandfather who taught me swimming in a open irrigation well.

  9. Your post has me thinking of all the excuses I made up for not walking this long weekend, ISG -- and tomorrow it's supposed to rain! Well, I am inspired to begin again Weds... I like to walk, once I am out the door.

    I've never tried a chutney with bell pepper, this sounds spicy-good. And I am really coveting your last two chick pea dishes :)

  10. amma made something similar, she added peanuts as well

  11. Hi Indo, glad this weekend is over, was pretty busy. Loved "Prince of Persia" too.

    Yes, I do believe and read that 20mins of exercise of any kind a day keeps our brain and body stimulated. I have a stationary Bike I use for 20mins weekdays (no weekend biking)and 10mons of wt lifting (10lbs each to keep my arms a little boost, not that I look like Madonna or anything! :D

    Love Pepper chutney, colorful.

  12. Ha, ha exercise routine. Mine ? Good joke Indo. But I do try to go for my zumba class twice a week, does not happen very often though. I love it when I can.

    Love the color of your chutney

  13. Exercise who me? I can come up with imaginitive and not so imaginitive excuses for skiping exercise and it is not even funny.

    I have bookmarked all your tomato chutneys, adding this one too.

  14. no garlic in the chutney?
    i try to go for walks and as i am huffing and puffing, i always cross paths with an elderly man who has the strangest gait,(maybe a damaged leg) but struggles it out thru the walk. Just seeing him makes me walk a little more .

  15. Exercise for me is a combination of brisk walking and cycling on my stationary bike everyday !
    The chutney looks and sounds delicious, fabulous color too !


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