Saturday, December 25, 2010

Spicy Mango Chutney



Chutney? why would I make any when the pantry already holds several jars of Sharwood brand mango chutney? 

I can blame it on Trader Joe's tempting packages of Chile Spiced Mangos. That new item appeared in my shopping cart when I wasn't looking, or so it seemed. Around our house dried mango is a popular snack food. We love most things spicy, so chile heat topping sweet dried mango should be terrific, right? Wrong! One nibble was enough. We didn't like its mouth feel or the harsh flavor as a snack. The opened package of gritty, spicy, dried fruit sat on the shelf, rejected and fostering "food-waste guilt" every time I opened the pantry door. Finally, a week later, some self-induced pressure forced to do something with that damned 8-ounce package of chile mangos.

I skimmed recipes in cookbooks and online, looking for inspiration. In the end I worked out an approximate ratio of liquid to dried fruit, sweetened liquid (fruit juice) to sour (vinegar and lemon juice), and went from there. The ingredient list came from what was available in the pantry and the seasonings reflected flavors we like. The free-form afternoon chutney fest was organized; its goal was a thick condiment featuring sweet/sour/spicy flavors. 

The process was a simple one: chopping, measuring and stirring at a simmer. Only the dried fruit was briefly problematic, sticky and moist enough to grab my chopping knife. Kitchen shears were more effective in cutting up the apricots. 

Many recipes recommend holding the chutney for one or two days to let the flavors blend. We couldn't wait that long and kept taste-testing as the chutney cooked, checking for seasoning. We nibbled a few spoonfuls while it cooled, still checking for seasoning. Finally we spooned it over Hawaiian chicken meatballs and rice, and declared it a keeper. No need to adjust the seasoning. Yum! 

I can almost taste this chutney on a pork, brie and sliced pear panini, or accompanying grilled chicken, lamb or pork. Imagine it on a crostini with creamy cheese, or filling a baked wonton cup as an appetizer... There might not be any left to put in glass jars for canning. No problem, another batch won't take more than an hour to prepare. 

Diced dried chile mango bits

The rest of the chutney ingredients

Cooking at a low simmer

Spicy Mango Chutney with Hawaiian meatballs and rice
(Note: the blur in the center is a fast-moving fork!)

Filling jars of chutney for canning (hot water bath)

Spicy Mango Chutney

2 1/4 cups apple cider
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup (8 ounces) TJs dried chile mangos, in small dice
3/4 cup (6 ounces) dried mangos (regular, not flavored) in small dice
3/4 cup (6 ounces) raisins (or Sultanas or dried cranberries)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) dried apricots, in small dice
Extra liquid, if/as required

  1. Add cider, vinegar, lemon juice and  honey to a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Heat over medium heat until just boiling, stirring until the honey melts. 
  2. Add the curry and ginger; heat and stir briefly to incorporate. 
  3. Add the dried fruit and return the pot to a boil, stirring occasionally. 
  4. Reduce the burner heat to the lowest setting possible, and simmer until fruit is rehydrated and liquid is reduced and thick, about 20 minutes on my stovetop. Add more liquid if needed.
  5. Remove from the heat; cool; store for a day to let the flavors blend. 
  6. Refrigerate to store or use a water bath to can half-pint jars.

Notes:
  • We ate it warm and the flavor didn't suffer. The recipe doesn't need any adjustments, but variations are always fun.
  • On my next batch I might add some diced onion and sweet peppers.
  • Chopped almonds would be a tasty addition after step 5.
  • A glass half-pint jar of this chutney is an eye-catcher, with vibrant jewel colors that glow in the light. Keep a few extra jars on hand for attractive and tasty gifts.

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