Yesterday’s recipe source, Indian cookery and confectionery (407 recipes) by Mrs. I.R. Dey, published in Calcutta in 1900, included a recipe for ‘chatni’ made with an ingredient which was a mystery to me, so naturally I have to share it with you. You may need to refer back to yesterday’s post for information on the units of measurement.
Chatni of Alubokhara.
Wash alubokharas, raisins and dates 1 powa each and keep the raisins and alubokharas under water for about a quarter of an hour in an enamelled pot. Then heat ½ powa of oil and fry a generous pinch of panch-foron and some broken chillies in the oil and then fry a little the alubokharas, raisins and dates in it. Add 3 powas of water and when it boils add 1 powa of sugar, a generous pinch of salt and a little pasted turmeric. Take down when the desired thickness of the soup is reached.
According to the book, alubokhara, is “a sort of prune, brought chiefly from Bokhara.” This Urdu word apparently translates as “potato of Bukhara” – the famous ancient city in what is now Uzbekistan. A little further investigation led me to The Hand-book of the Economic Products of the Punjab (Lahore, 1868) which has two entries on the fruit:
Dried Prunes, “álu bukhárá” (Prunus bukhariensis)
Selling price at Peshawar, 2 seers 8 chittacks per rupee. They are extensively brought to the plains and can be bought in any bazar.
Prunus domestica, var. Bokhariensis.
A cold remedy. The fruit is used as a refrigerant laxative in fever and indigestion, both as a cold infusion, and as an electuary. It is principally brought from Peshawar. By Europeans it is principally used as a laxative in combination with senna.
Dose. – 9 fruits. Price, 4 annas a seer.
So, there we have it – the mysterious ingredient is none other than the prune, which is non other than a dried plum. I must admit I rather fancy it made into chutney.