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Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Spicy Tomato Chutney


Today the house is filled with an enticing fruity, spicy vinegary smell, as I’m making chutney.
It’s just as well we’re not getting tired of eating the 35 pounds or so of tomatoes from this year’s harvest, but it is rather slow going. Time to preserve them, I think. I’ve already oven dried and bottled some, but this time I want to make something that will keep well and can be brought out at Christmas time.
I’m having to improvise a little, so this recipe, of sorts, can really only serve as guide, but I hope you get the idea.

You will need… Loads of tomatoes, chopped, probably about 3 lb. I filled a large colander.
3 medium sized onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
8 oz sugar
white wine vinegar, approximately 4 fluid oz
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp black mustard seeds
half tsp ground cloves
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp kalonji* seeds
half tsp dried red chilli flakes
1 tsp salt

How to make it… It’s easy really. Just put all the ingredients into a large pan and mix well to combine. Place on the stove and turn on the heat to a gentle setting and slowly bring to a simmer.
Keep an eye on it and stir occasionally to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. You must make sure it doesn’t catch and burn otherwise this will spoil the taste by making it bitter.
I left it on the heat for a very long time until it had reduced by half and took on a glossy jammy consistency.
Afterwards I left it to cool slightly and then ladled it into sterilised jars.

So, how did it turn out?
Well, considering that I made the recipe up as I went along, I don't think it turned out too bad.
The flavour is intense with tomato with an agreeable balance of sweet and sourness. The spices give a good background warmth and the whole fennel and kalonji seeds punctuate the chutney with their respective aniseed and earthy flavours.
Overall, the chutney has a good depth of fruitiness with layers of spicy fragrance.
I reckon it'll be a good partner to a mature cheddar cheese and also great for perking up any leftover cold turkey.

*Kalonji seeds are also known as black onion or nigella seeds.

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