Saturday, 19 December 2009

Spicy aubergine (brinjal) chutney for Christmas

Every morning in December my two older children open their Advent calendars and then jump up and down shouting out the days til Christmas. However  well you've done with present buying this is not that restful a start to the day. If like me your present list is still only half complete then why not give up the shops and try cooking up some presents instead? I would much rather be in a warm kitchen listening to the radio than shouldering my way through the Christmas throng. This year I’ve made lemon and ugly lime marmalade (it's in my book). It’s a good Christmas present for marmalade fiends as they have invariably run out of the homemade stuff by December. I've also made my some brinjal chutney. It's a rich, spicy chutney that goes well with Indian food but is also delicious in a sandwich with a good hard cheese. It makes about 5 jars.


1 x  5cm square tamarind pulp (soaked in about 100ml of kettle hot water)
4 (roughly 750 g) aubergines (diced)
2 tsps sea salt
6 tbsp vegetable oil (mustard oil would be perfect if you can get hold of it)
3 long red chillies (seeded and finely chopped)
6 cloves of garlic (peeled and finely chopped)
1 thumb of ginger (peeled and finely chopped)
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 scant tsp fenugreek
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp fennel seeds
8 fresh curry leaves (optional)
2 whole dried red chillies
2 heaped tsps black mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric
400ml distilled malt vinegar
150g dark brown sugar

5 clean jam jars (save up your shop bought pickle jars)
a little oil to seal the top

A couple of hours before you are ready to start making the chutney place the diced aubergines in a colander and sprinkle over some sea salt. Grind the cumin, fenugreek, fennel and coriander. Place in a bowl along with the other spices and the curry leaves. Rub the tamarind through a sieve into another little bowl using a wooden spoon. Scrape the pulp off the bottom of the sieve. You should have a good 2 or 3 tablespoons of glossy brown pulp. You are ready to start making the chutney.

Heat the oil in a large non-reactive saucepan. When hot add the aubergine and fry until soft and a little coloured. Add the garlic, chillies and ginger and fry for another five minutes before adding the spices. Fry for another two minutes then add the vinegar, tamarind and sugar. At this point put the clean, washed and dried jam jars into a cold oven with the lids off. Turn the oven on to 170ÂșC/gas mark 3 and put the timer on for 20 minutes. When the bell goes turn off the oven leaving the jars inside.

Cook the mixture over a medium heat until you have a thick jam like mixture (roughly 30 minutes). Stir frequently. Taste the chutney. Don’t worry if it’s very vinegary this calm down. Add a little more salt if you think it needs it. Spoon your chutney into your hot jars. Pour a little more oil over the top to seal the jars and screw on the lids. Make some labels and wrap them up. Tell your lucky friends or relatives that their chutney will be ready in a month (a perfect spicy kick for the fag end of January).

1 comment:

  1. Your comment on my blog made my day - how lovely of you to take the time to say hello! I adore your book and your recipes. I was delighted when I read your article in the Telegraph Magazine about salads - someone who shared my passion for taking such care in preparing a green salad - I knew then I had to get your book. I currently grow buckler leaved sorrel - the small heart shaped sorrel - which I love nibbling on when I'm at the bottom of the garden. Best wishes!