Sunday, 3 October 2010


Recently I was asked for my chutney recipe, and I had to say I didn't really have one, because I've never measured quantities of anything, more a general technique.  Today I’m making green tomato chutney, but this would work with courgettes (which was specifically what I was asked for) or pretty much anything else you might want to make a chutney out of.  It goes like this:

Pound some spices in a pestle and mortar and toast them in the dry pan - I generally use coriander, cumin, fennel and mustard seeds, aniseed, plus salt and pepper obviously - but a pinch of whatever you have to hand and you like.

Once the spices are toasted and before they start to burn, add enough oil to coat the base of the pan (olive, sunflower, groundnut - or sesame for a toasty nut flavour if you like, doesn't matter), then add finely chopped garlic, ginger and either finely sliced fresh chillis or chilli flakes.

Add finely chopped onion/s, and a dash of turmeric powder - enough to turn the onions a nice strong but not too lurid yellow.  Cook till the onions are soft but not yet browning, then add the diced green tomatoes, courgettes (or whatever).  

Cover and cook gently till the courgette is softening, but before it starts to break down, then add enough cider vinegar to half cover the veg, then re-cover the pan and leave it to simmer gently until the courgette and onion are just starting to mush together but well before they've  become a homogenous gloop, and sharpness of the vinegar has mellowed - you can tell that by the effect on your nose and eyes when you lift the lid.  Usually about twenty minutes.

Uncover the pan and simmer uncovered for a further five minutes - or as long as is necessary to allow the liquid to reduce to get the right consistency.  If you want to add fresh leafy herbs add them just in the last minute before turning off the heat.

Then leave it to cool a little before transferring to sterilised jars.

That's about it, I think.  Don't appear to have missed anything out.

As for quantities - that all depends on how big a glut of whatever fruit or veg you're chutneying you have, and how big a pan, and how spicy or not you like it.  I guess the most significant quantities involved would be the ratio of onion to feature fruit/veg, but it's not crucial, it'll just come out more or less oniony, and as there's nothing wrong with onion chutney anyway, what's the worst thing that can happen?  For what it’s worth, for the purposes of science, and this blog, today I did weigh my diced onion and diced tomato, and the ratio was one to three – 300g onion (one and a half onions) to 900g tomato.  That seems about right to me.

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