I said in my “About” page there would be food descriptions and recipes, so as I was making chutney this weekend I thought I would make it my first recipe in the blog.
I love food. I love shopping for it, cooking it and eating it. I love talking about it. When I was a poor student, living on rice mess (rice, vegetables and grated cheese) shared in a communal house, I dreamed of one day having my own kitchen with cupboards full of cooking gadgets and doohickeys, plus shelves full of food I had made. I used to read cookbooks like other people read novels.
In our first small apartment after I married, I made all the jams, pickles and marmalade, baked bread and produced pies, cakes and cookies. I made my own mincemeat and the recipe I used for our Christmas pudding came from my Nan’s adaptation of one from a British Army cookbook, that originally served one hundred. I also made curry, at first using basic curry powder, then learning to mix the different spices together for a more authentic flavour, as my Dad used to do.
Dad’s curried chicken dinners were legendary and probably deserve a post all to themselves, but suffice it to say, after one of them all the guests, many of them curry haters, were converted and the kitchen looked and smelled like a small battalion of Gurkhas had camped in it.
So, here is my recipe for a mildly hot Indian style sweet mango chutney. If you clean up as you go, your kitchen won’t end up looking like my Dad’s.
Sharman’s Mango Chutney
6 lbs. mangoes, slightly underripe (6 large ones) peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large onion, finely diced
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 c. puréed fresh ginger root
1 red chilli pepper, cut into fine slivers, no seeds
4 c. golden or palm sugar
4 c. apple cider vinegar
Whole spices to be dry fried:
2 tsp. whole coriander seeds
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1 tsp. whole cardamom seeds, no husk
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cloves
2 tsp. nigella seed, aka onion seed or kalonji
2 tsp. salt
Put the vinegar, sugar, ground spices, nigella seed and salt into a large pan and simmer gently until the sugar is dissolved. If you use the palm sugar which comes in hard pellets, you may need to stir from time to time. Turn off while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Finely dice the onion and add to the pan. Add the minced garlic, slivered chilli pepper and ginger purée. Prepare the mango by using a mango pitter (pictured) or slice down each side of the narrow pit with a sharp knife to get two halves of mango. Score the mango into cubes leaving the skin intact, then push inside out. The cubes will spring apart and you can slice them off with a knife. You can get a little more fruit off the remaining pit by slicing carefully. Add to pan.
Now, heat a dry frying pan over medium heat and toss in the whole spices for a minute, until they are fragrant. Immediately pour them onto a cold plate. When cool, grind them to a powder in an electric coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle. I use a Braun coffee grinder I bought at a thrift shop just for spices.
Add these ground spices to the pan and turn up to medium. When it begins to boil, turn down to a light simmer, lid off. It needs to boil down to about half its volume. The mango and onion will be very soft and the juices thick. It will not be as thick and dry as a jam mixture. This time it took about two hours. Toward the end I kept checking and giving it a stir, but it didn’t seem as though it would stick.
Take off the heat and let sit for five minutes. Seal in hot canning jars with boiled lids. I used some recycled commercial jars with their lids and have stored chutney in a cool cupboard quite safely for a year or so this way. The sugar and vinegar act as preservatives. Officially, though, one should can in a boiling water bath with two piece lids. The chutney should now age for about a month before eating. If you can’t get cheap mangoes, I have used apples, plums, peaches, green tomatoes and even rhubarb with good results. Each fruit adds its own special taste.
Makes 6 x 12 oz. jars or 9 cups.