Chutney: no self-respecting Indian meal would be without a generous dollop of the stuff. For those not in the know, a chutney is a combination of fruit and veg, slow cooked in vinegar with sugar and spices, and then stored for a long period of time to intensify its flavour. Chutney, in all its many and varied forms, is but one of the many gifts the fine people of the Indian subcontinent have bestowed upon the world. Taking its place alongside Buddhism, call centres, using rocks down at the river to do your laundry, chess, and the largest film industry on the planet, chutney is indeed a bright star, doing its motherland proud. All this, and tasty, too.
Why pineapple and mango chutney? Well, the fruit was dirt cheap. Quite a lot of imported tropical goodies have been making an appearance around town, thanks largely to the Christmas/New Years holiday. Recently, one of the local supermarkets was selling pineapples for $ each, so I grabbed a few with the thought of making a chutney, something I've not made before. I had a couple of mangos sitting in the fridge which needed to be used up too, so they went in as well.
Making chutney is a simple process, certainly nowhere near as involved as jam-making. The key thing to remember though is to cook your fruit out slowly, over a low heat.
The recipe is somewhat westernised, the original probably using a wider array of spices, but it's still pretty good. You will need:
- pineapples, cubed
- mangos, green, cubed (any other colour will be far too soft & a pain to use)
- tsp ground cardamom
- cinnamon quill
- tbspn white wine vinegar
- tspns ground cumin
- Salt & pepper
- cups brown sugar
- " long piece of ginger, peeled & grated
- clove garlic
- large red chili, deseeded & finely chopped
I didn't have ground cardamom or cumin - just seeds. Remove any pods/casings and toast lightly in the oven (keep an eye on them so they don't burn). Grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle, or place on a chopping board and crush with the bottom of a pot.
Put all ingredients into a pan except the garlic, ginger, mango and pineapple. Heat and stir to dissolve brown sugar. Bring to the boil, then simmer for minutes. Do not cover.
Add remaining ingredients and gently simmer until the fruit is soft, by which time most of the liquid should have evaporated. Allow at least a couple of hours (remember: low heat + long time = great chutney). Again, do not cover.
At this point, the chutney should be thick and smooth. Taste, and season with salt and pepper.
How did it taste? It was pleasantly warming and spicy, with a distinct pineapple flavour; unfortunately, you couldn't taste the mango at all. While it's hot, pour into warm, sterilised jars, seal and store in a cool, dark place. You could eat it now, but as with most preserves, the longer you leave it to sit and develop, the more flavoursome it will be (at least a month, and longer is better, as most women will tell you). Serve alongside curries or with fried fish; I tried a bit with some small, whole flounder dredged in seasoned flour: very win!