The Red Death (Roasted Tomato and Trinidad Scorpion Chutney)

There comes a point at the end of every growing season when I tire of making and freezing more and more batches of tomato sauce for pasta for the next nine months. One of the ways I deal with the excess—after giving loads away to undeserving and ungrateful bastards—is by making spicy tomato chutney. My general go-to recipes are this and this (versions of each other). This year, however, I put a twist on the second one that turned out remarkably well. I’m not referring to the fact that I used a Trinidad Scorpion pepper from my garden (I normally grow Habaneros for my satanically hot pepper needs but our local nursery didn’t have any this year). No, the twist was that I oven-roasted the tomatoes first. I’d made a batch of regular oven-roasted tomatoes with herbs with some garden San Marzanos a few days earlier. We normally eat those in sandwiches with mozzarella and arugula etc. but it struck me that the concentrated, savoury tomato flavour would probably make an excellent spicy chutney as well. And so that’s what I did with my next batch of San Marzanos and then with an even larger batch of Amish Pastes. The result is a complex, hot chutney that you can dab small amounts of on top of sliced, dressed tomatoes, smear lightly in sandwiches or eat as you would a regular achaar/pickle alongside dal and rice. The first step—oven-roasting the tomatoes—will take a long time. But it needs no supervision and once the tomatoes are ready the rest comes together very fast. Continue reading


Green Tomato and Habanero Chutney

As with my ongoing onslaught of eggplant recipes this chutney has its origin in a need to use up excess produce from my vegetable garden: in this case, green/unripe tomatoes that fell off the vines while I was picking ripe ones and many, many peppers, hot and sweet. The first version was made entirely by the seat of my pants, with nothing measured. I filled three jars, kept one for us and gave the other two away. That would have been the end of it except that the recipients raved about it and two of them in particular have been persecuting me endlessly for the last couple of weeks to replicate it and post the recipe. Well, I have some good news and I have some bad news. You want the bad news first? Well, I wasn’t able to replicate it exactly. The good news? This is pretty close anyway and very good in its own right. Will it get Ben and Lisa off my back? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, they and our friends Aaron and Kip are the only ones other than us who ever tasted the original so that shouldn’t matter very much to the rest of you. Continue reading

Spicy Mango Chutney

Mango discourse in the South Asian diaspora is focused almost entirely on nostalgia for varieties not available outside the home countries—a condition that leads some to overpay by some orders of magnitude for fruit flown in by small scale importers and distributed via ad hoc channels. I miss my mangos too—especially the langda, daseri and chausa—but I find this to be folly. Far better to embrace the good mangos that are available in the US—see the ataulfo, for example. And also to embrace the easily available unripe, green mango and all the excellent things that can be done with it: from Bengali kaancha aamer chatni to aam panna (the green mango drink that is as central to surviving South Asian summers as ripe mangos are as a reward) to Kerala-style curries to various pickles and chutneys. But then I understand that not everyone can be as tranquil and reasonable as me. Speaking of aam panna, this recipe is one I improvised this summer on a day when I boiled and mashed mangos for a batch of aam panna that would have been so large as to challenge even my ability to consume it over a couple of weeks. So I kept a third of it aside and made this versatile chutney that works great as a pickle (with dal and parathas/chapatis or rice), as a sandwich spread, and even as an accompaniment to cheese (like manchego, for example). And it’s very easy. You’re welcome. Continue reading

Tomato Chutney, Take 2

I posted a recipe for a spicy tomato chutney a couple of weeks ago. Here now is a variation on it that is less hot but has a more complex flavour. The major things that are in this that were not in the previous are habanero chillies, ginger, Sichuan peppercorn and—wait for it, wait for it—raisins. The latter—I fully admit—were put in there mostly to troll my friend Aparna—a renowned hater of dried fruits being added to anything savoury—but they work really well here. Speaking of haters, when I posted the recipe of the first chutney on a food forum a gent there got very wound up about the fact that the recipe did not follow the convention of listing the ingredients in the exact order in which they appear in the preparation. He was apparently so confused by this that he had to stop reading. This is one of the most hilarious things I’ve come across in a while. You’d have to work really hard, I think, to be confused by that recipe. As for the convention itself, I suppose it may be a useful one. My own recipes rarely follow it, and when I cook from any recipe I set all the ingredients out and then follow the cooking steps—it hardly matters whether I set the ingredients out in the order of the cooking steps. My position, in any case,—as I noted on Twitter—is that you fuckers should be happy I list quantities and cooking times at all, having been “trained” by my mother on a steady diet of “a little” and “some” and “cook till it smells good”. If it really does bother you so much you should apply to management for a refund. Continue reading

Peach-Habanero-Ginger Chutney

Before I became a pickling fool I used to be a jam-making fool. My jam making has slowed to a trickle in recent years with one exception: peach chutney/jam. I make one version or the other of it every year. Ginger always goes into it (as in this jam with bourbon from five years ago) but the rest usually depends on what’s at hand. This year what was at hand was a lot of habanero peppers from my community garden plot and so I decided to throw them in. To cut the heat I added apple cider vinegar and then at the end I randomly decided to roast and powder some cumin seeds and toss them in too. One of the reasons my peach chutney varies from year to year is that I never write down whatever seat of the pants improvization I come up with. This year, however, some of the friends I gave a lot of the chutney to liked it so much that I wrote it down the next day. I don’t know if I’ll make it the exact same way again next year—I probably won’t—but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make it like I did, is there? Continue reading

Pineapple Chutney

Pineapple Chutney
I bought a pineapple for a fruit salad for the younger brat’s birthday party. In the chaos of preparing for the party—which included an extended wrestling session with an inflated and partially filled kiddie pool that could have been the showstopper in a Buster Keaton film—I forgot to cut up said pineapple for the fruit salad. I then forgot about the pineapple until the day before we were to leave for Los Angeles. Admittedly, this is a hard thing to do; not forgetting in general: any fool can forget all kinds of things and I often do. But it is difficult to forget a pineapple because, unless you actively hide it, a pineapple is a very visible thing, almost flagrantly so; tends to catch the eye—there’s a reason Carmen Miranda didn’t put a pineapple on her head (didn’t want the competition, you see); and if she did, it also proves my point. So unless you hid a pineapple—and who could forget hiding a pineapple?—it would be hard to forget a pineapple. But I did. And then I saw it and I had to do something with it that didn’t include eating it as we had lots of other fruit to finish before leaving and when it comes to the frantic overeating of fruit it is mangoes and not pineapples I am partial to. The effort of making jam from one pineapple—not to mention the uncertainty about canning said jam given that pineapple is a high pH fruit—did not appeal. Chutney then. Continue reading