“I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” – The Old Testament (Song of Solomon)
Chutney refers to a wide-ranging family of condiments from South Asian cuisine that usually contain some mixture of spices and vegetables and/or fruits. There are many varieties of chutney. Chutneys may be either wet or dry, and they can have a coarse to a fine texture. The Anglo-Indian loan word refers to fresh and pickled preparations indiscriminately, with preserves often sweetened. Several Northern Indian languages use the word for fresh preparations only. A different word achār applies to preserves that often contain oil and are rarely sweet. Vinegar or citrus juice may be added as natural preservatives, or fermentation in the presence of salt may be used to create acid.
Here is a favourite chutney recipe that adds spice to many a bland dish or can be a wonderful condiment for all sorts of charcuterie or meat dishes. It marries the best of the Indian and English traditions.
1 kg cooking apples
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1½ cups white wine vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Peel, core and slice or chop apples into small pieces.
Place in a bowl with salt, stir and leave to stand for an hour. Drain away any liquid.
Heat oil in saucepan and add mustard seeds, garlic and fresh ginger and fry gently for a couple of minutes, stirring.
Add cumin, turmeric and pepper and cook for a few more seconds or until aromatic, then add apples with the vinegar, sugar, lemon rind and juice and cayenne pepper.
Simmer over a slow heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The mixture should be fairly thick.
Leave to cool.