The word chutney comes from south-east Asia, originally “chatni” in Hindi, and it is mainly from the British Raj that we get our love of these flavoursome preserves. But chutneys predate our love affair with them: references tell us chutneys would be familiar to the Romans and it is said the Lord Nelson used a lime pickle to help prevent the scourge that was scurvy on Royal Navy ships. I love the sweet, sharp, hot flavours that chutney adds to curries and, at my local Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants, I always fight to keep the dishes at the table to eat with my main course rather than just with the appetiser or poppadoms, which is how they are traditionally served.
Traditional sour lime pickle is a little too much for me, but this chutney, mixing sweet and salt, hits the spot.Adding whole lemons to traditional mango chutney transforms it to a much more sophisticated relish. Serve with curries, casseroles and stews, or mix with mayonnaise and spread on crusty bread for delicious chicken or beef sandwiches.
Unwaxed lemons work best, but if you can only get ones that have been coated with wax, this must be scrubbed off with hot water and a scourer before you cook them. Make the chutney when mangos are plentiful – it keeps very well.”
Makes 2.5 kg
2 unwaxed lemons (see note above if using waxed)
400g onions, peeled and cut into large chunks
60g garlic, peeled
80g root ginger, peeled
4 fresh red chillies, stems removed
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cardamom seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1.5kg mangoes (4-5 large ones)
675g dried fruit (dates, apricots, figs, peaches, raisins), roughly chopped
675g raw light brown sugar
1 tbsp sea salt
1 litre cider vinegar
Put the lemons, onions, garlic, ginger and chillies in a food processor and whizz until finely chopped.
Put the whole spices into a spice mill or coffee grinder and whizz until finely ground.
Peel the mangos, cut all the flesh from the pip and roughly chop.
Have your jars washed and ready in a 100C/200F/gas mark 2 oven.
Place all the chutney ingredients in a non-reactive pan and place over a low heat. Bring up to a simmer, stirring often, then cook at a moderate boil until thick, stirring often, especially towards the end of cooking because that is when the chutney will start to stick to the bottom and may burn. Take care, because when you reach this point the chutney may spit.
To test that the chutney is ready, pull a wooden spoon through the centre of the pan: if both sides stay apart, you’re good to go; if they run back together, cook for a little longer.
Take the pan off the heat and let it sit for five minutes. Pot the chutney into the hot jars, pressing it down well – be sure to leave a little head space by filling to the shoulder of the jar and not up the neck. Screw the lids on loosely and leave to cool. Once cold, check the lids are on tight, then label the jars. Store in a cool, dark place – the chutney will keep for up to 12 months.
Recipe reproduced with kind permission of Thane Prince.