Friday, June 27, 2014
When I was growing up, mango chutney was one of the most exotic foods that came across my radar. Now, if you have read this blog at all, you will know that there were no exotic foods served on the farm in the Berkshires in the 50s and 60s. Baked beans were an exotic food (and not served on the farm.) But every so often, after we had leg of lamb, my mother would take the left over lamb and make curry. Bland curry, but curry nonetheless. Of course, curry requires chutney.
The chutney came in a bottle with an exotic looking label. It was imported from India and my recollection is that it was called Soonji Patterji Major Grey's chutney. Please don't be offended, all you hundreds of readers from the subcontinent. Just correct my spelling, if you would. I used to read the ingredients out loud at the dinner table. I didn't even know what mangoes were, but they sure sounded exotic and different.
Wikipedia tells us that Major Grey, the supposed inventor of the chutney of the same name, probably never existed. Wikipedia did not tell us if chutney was invented by the white man, or was original to India. Chutney was exceedingly popular in the US, I can tell you that. There are no fewer than three recipes in the southern section of the cookbook, lime chutney, peach chutney and mango chutney New England boasts apple chutney, and so on. Much chutney.
So last Friday, I went out and bought the ingredients for two preserve thingys, mango chutney and peach melon conserve. A week later, I got down to business with the mangoes. The recipe says that the mangoes should be firm and underripe. Out of the four mangoes, three were still firm. One was definitely ripe and slippery with juice. I ended up ditching the ripe mango and cutting up the other three. Something that everyone may not know about mangoes is mangoes have a seed, to which the flesh clings like grim death. When one cuts up a peach into slices, the slices come away from the seed and the cook is left with neat segments. Not so with the mango. You have to cut pieces off the sides and then cut them into strips.
The other piece of info that might come in handy regarding the ingredients is about green ginger. Green ginger seems to be just regular ginger root, with a light green tinge. Also, about the cheesecloth bag. Somewhere, hidden away in a drawer, we might have some cheesecloth. However, it is much easier to put your mustard seeds in a tea ball and throw said tea ball into the chutney to be fished out at the end of the process. No special trip to the hardware store to buy cheesecloth, no hours spent constructing a cheesecloth bag. Works for me.
It took about an hour to assemble the ingredients in a stainless steel pot and begin boiling them. I doubled the recipe because three to four pints is not many after all the work of making the chutney. The directions say to simmer 30 minutes or until the syrup is thick and fruit is clear. I simmered for about 45 minutes. The fruit became translucent, but the syrup never became thick. Don't know what to tell you here. Just be aware that after 45 minutes, your syrup is unlikely to become thick. I went with watery syrup. It's not as good as Soonji Patterji, but it was pretty good.
If you are canning your chutney, you must immerse the jars and lids in a boiling water bath to sterilize them. When the chutney is done carefully ladle it into the hot jars. Using tongs, put on the lids and rings, and submerge back into the boiling water bath. Leave the jars in the boiling water for fifteen minutes. Then remove them and put them on the counter to cool.
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 cups malt vinegar or cider vinegar
1 pound (about 2 to three) underripe mangoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 pound currents (one cup)
1/2 pound raisins
1/2 pound blanched almonds
1/3 cup sliced green ginger or one half cup chopped preserved ginger
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon white mustard seeds, tied in a cheesecloth bag or tea ball
1/2 cup chopped onion
12 cup chopped green pepper
1 teaspoon chopped hot chili pepper or red pepper flakes
1. Combine the sugar and vinegar and bring to a boil.
2. Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer thirty minutes, or until syrup is thick and fruit is clear. Discard the spice bag, or tea ball. Ladle the chutney into hot sterilized jars and seal. Cool and store in a cool dark dry place. Makes three to four pints.