This sweet, sour, and spicy condiment originated with Sri Lanka’s small Malaysian population. It’s made by pickling shallots and banana peppers in a mixture of vinegar and dates and is a common side dish at wedding buffets and other feasts. Be sure to give the dish at least 12 hours in the refrigerator before serving to let the flavors meld. Taste and adjust the spice to your preference.
Lessons from a tropical island in the Indian Ocean where exuberantly spiced dishes have been influenced by centuries of colonization, migration, and commerce
- 20 pitted dates (6 oz.), halved
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. black mustard seeds
- 4 tbsp. plus ½ tsp. white vinegar, divided
- 1⁄2 cup roasted cashews (2¼ oz.), coarsely chopped
- 2 tsp. light brown sugar
- 2 tsp. finely grated jaggery
- 1-1 1⁄2 tsp. medium or hot chili powder
- 1 tsp. minced lime pickle
- 4 shallots (5 oz.), peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 banana peppers, sliced (½ cup plus 1 Tbsp.)
- 2 1-inch pieces flat cinnamon bark
- In the bowl of a small food processor or electric grinder, combine 10 dates, the mustard seeds, and ½ teaspoon white vinegar. Process into a thick paste.
- Transfer the date mixture to a bowl. Add the remaining dates and vinegar, the cashews, sugar, jaggery, chili powder, lime pickle, shallots, peppers, and cinnamon; stir well to combine. Taste and adjust the salt as desired.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 day before serving.