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Savory Mini Cheesecakes With Red Pepper And Green Tomatillo Chutney

Savory Mini Cheesecakes With Red Pepper And Green Tomatillo Chutney
Monica Bhide for NPR /

Plain savory cheesecakes provide a great base for showing off spicy chutneys. I use this one, but truly you can use any chutney for this dish. This dish is always a smash hit at parties and is supereasy to make. Recipes are from Modern Spice: Inspired Indian Flavors for the Contemporary Kitchen by Monica Bhide (Simon & Schuster, April 2009).

Makes 30 pieces

Nonstick cooking spray

30 mini phyllo shells

One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 medium egg

5 tablespoons sour cream

3 tablespoons red pepper and green tomatillo chutney (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the shells on the sheet.

Whisk together the cream cheese, egg and sour cream until well combined.

Place 2 teaspoons of the mixture into each shell. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the filling is firm and set.

Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Top each cheesecake with about 1/4 teaspoon of the chutney and serve.

Red Pepper And Green Tomatillo Chutney

Be careful when using fenugreek seeds. They add bitterness to a dish, so a little goes a long way. Also, they are not substitutes for fresh fenugreek or dried fenugreek leaves; the flavors and textures are miles apart.

Makes 1 generous cup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

5 or 6 fresh curry leaves*

Pinch of asafetida*

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds*

1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds*

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon onion seeds*

1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds*

4 whole dried red chilis

2 cups diced green tomatillos (10 to 12 medium tomatillos)

1 cup seeded and diced red bell pepper (1 medium pepper)

2 teaspoons grated, peeled fresh ginger

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup white vinegar or fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon table salt

In a medium skillet, heat the vegetable oil. When the oil begins to simmer, add the curry leaves, asafetida, cumin, fenugreek, fennel, onion and mustard seeds. As soon as the seeds begin to sizzle, about 1 minute, add the chilis, tomatillos, bell pepper, ginger and sugar. Mix well.

Add the water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue on a gentle simmer for about 35 minutes, until the tomatillos and bell pepper are soft and the liquid is syrupy.

Add the salt. Mix well.

Remove from heat. Remove the whole chilis, if you like. Transfer to a container and cool.

Cover and refrigerate until needed.

*Available at an Indian grocery or online at

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