Sunday, May 8, 2011

Apricot Chutney (2 versions)

“Oh my GAWD, Mom, not CHUTNEY again!?!?!” This must have been heard at least once a month in my house during the 70s. My mom made chutney often, and I, ummmm, didn’t appreciate it. In fact, I HATED it, and I FREAKED out when it was cooking – something about the vapors of boiling onion and ginger really seemed painful to me at the time. It wasn’t just that I refused to eat the stuff, but I literally howled and whined each time she made it. Oh, brother!

Since then, however, I’ve come to appreciate, and in fact to seek out, chutney – most often in the form of the English tea sandwich made with sharp cheddar and chutney, though also served as a side to meats. The extreme reaction of my youth is now just a ridiculous memory, so I decided (bravely) to attempt to make my own. OK not my own: I decided to make my mother’s chutney, the very recipe that used to send me running out of doors for fresh air as a child. A hitch, though, was the fact that my mom couldn’t find the book with the recipe she used all those years, but we were able to find a few similar ones that I cobbled together, with great success.

First, Madhur Jaffrey’s book on Vegetarian Cooking was one of my mom’s favorites, and in it there is an entire chapter on chutneys (!) so I had plenty of inspiration there. Second, The Joy of Cooking never fails, and sure enough there was a basic apricot chutney recipe there that looked very close to mom’s old favorite. Finally, I have to admit that I can’t stand raisins, so I left them out entirely, basically making Ms. Jaffrey’s recipe with the addition of ½ sautéed onion. The basic recipe is really tasty, and you can experiment with the various spices. Enjoy, even if it does scare your kids!

Apricot Chutney with Raisins and Currants

Madhur Jaffrey’s “World of the East Vegetarian Cooking” 1981

1 pound dried apricots
10 large cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
A 1x3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 ¼ cups red wine vinegar
2 cups sugar
¼ tsp salt
1/8 to ¾ tsp cayenne pepper
¾ cup golden raisins
½ cup currants

Put the apricots in a bowl. Pour 4 cups of hot water over them and let them soak for an hour.

Put the garlic and ginger into the container of an electric blender or a food processor along with ¼ cup of the vinegar. Blend until smooth.

Empty the apricots and their soaking liquid into a heavy stainless-steel or porcelain-lined pot. Add the garlic-ginger mixture, the remaining vinegar, sugar, salt and cayenne. Bring to a boil. Simmer on a medium flame, stirring frequently, for 45 minutes. Do not let the chutney catch at the bottom of the pot. Lower heat if necessary. Add the raisins and currants and cook, stirring, another half hour or until chutney takes on a thick, glazed look. (Remember that the chutney will thicken slightly as it cools.) Let the chutney cool and store, refrigerated, in lidded glass or ceramic jars.

Curried Apricot Chutney

“The Joy of Cooking” 1974 Edition

Combine and simmer for 30 minutes:

2 cups water
2 cups dried apricots (11 oz package)
¾ cup chopped onion
¼ cup sugar

In a separate pan, cook for 5 minutes:
1 ½ cups vinegar
1 tsp ginger
1 ½ to 2 ½ tsp. curry powder
1 stick cinnamon
½ tsp salt

You may remove the stick of cinnamon before combining the apricot and spiced vinegar mixture. Stir in:

2 cups white raisins (10 oz package)

Place in sterile jars and process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

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