Sunday, July 30, 2006

Chutney Be Good

As much as I love Indian food and I love enjoying a tangy, savory chutney along with it, I don't often make chutney.

Sure, if I'm making samosas, I might whip up a quick cilantro chutney, but I also just like keeping a jar of tamarind chutney on hand.

But with my mint growing rampant this year and with other good produce available regularly at the farmers' market, I decided that this year I would make a number of different kinds of chutney and preserve some for the winter.

With the mint, I found two different recipes that begged to be tried: a green mint chutney heavy on the cilantro and sweet pepper, and a mint-tomato chutney that, as you can see, looks almost more like a salsa.

Once I have the remaining ingredients, I think I'll also try a green tomato chutney since I've found so many of those at the farmers' market this week.

But the most exciting recipe I've tried is a wild variation of the cranberry chutney found in The Indian Vegetarian. Since I'm still trying to use up the last of my blueberries, I thought, why not use them in something savory? I knew that blueberries worked well with sweet Indian spices, so it didn't seem too farfetched to work sweet and savory together.

Oh, wow. What a good idea! Imagine a blueberry sauce, laden with cinnamon and cardamom and ginger and coconut but with the bite of vinegar and fenugreek and a bit of pepper, served with a pungent curry.

I can, and I did. I whipped up a batch of curried hash browns one evening for a quick dinner, drizzled some nonfat yogurt on top, and added a dollop of blueberry chutney. And a few bites in, I went back and spooned more chutney over the rest of the potatoes.

Believe it or not, that chutney is good! Try it for yourself.

Blueberry Chutney

The spicing is similar to that in the cranberry chutney found in The Indian Vegetarian, but after a certain point, I veered off wildly and started throwing things in for the heck of it. Though I used whole spices for the most part, I've substituted ground spices here because it can be rather disconcerting to bite into a whole clove or cardamom pod. I will probably try this again and tinker with it some more, and if you try it, taste it as you go and adjust as needed. If you find something that makes it even better, let me know!

3 c fresh blueberries
1/4 c water
1/2 c sugar (I used cane juice crystals and a dash of maple syrup)
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground coriander
3 T white vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 c flaked coconut (optional)

Combine blueberries, water, sugar, and all spices together in a large, heavy, nonreactive (stainless steel or glass) saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add vinegar and lime juice and continue cooking another 5 minutes. Add coconut if desired.

My chutney turned out relatively thin (I had added too much water). If your chutney isn't as thick as you'd like, mix 1 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot with 1 tsp water and whisk into the chutney, allowing extra cooking time to thicken the sauce.

Spoon into sterilized canning jars, top with hot sterilized lids and rings, and process in a hot water bath for 10-15 minutes. This will allow you to store the jars in the cupboard, but you can also just store the chutney, unprocessed, in the refrigerator. I don't know how long this will last as it's the first time I've made it, so use caution.

Makes about 2 c chutney


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