Have you experienced times when you plan to make something and you don't end up doing it for whatever reasons and then you are left with a bunch of ingredients you want to use up before they spoil? Well, we (the husband and I) found ourselves in this situation last week. Confident that we would make a couple of traditional Mangalorean summertime dishes we picked up some raw mangoes and pineapples from the supermarket. When we got back home we had too many things to be done with the excess purchases and these raw mangoes took a back seat and slowly began to ripen over the next couple of days. Quick action had to be taken to put these seasonal goodies to better use. It would be such a crime to waste them as they weren't particularly the eating variety of mangoes and plus we had plenty of sweet fruits in stock to be finished first.
Since I didn't have any bright ideas of what to make out of them before they ripened further I flipped through my cookbooks and then some. Finally Google came to my rescue and I browsed through a million recipes that gave me a fair idea of what I wanted to make and how. Chutney it was - not the typically desi type, savoury and all but more like a Westernized version. A sweet and spicy jam if you please! I got my act together and began to make my first ever savoury preserve.
Ok, so I've used so many words like chutney, jam and preserve in a single breath. In fact I almost titled this post as a 'relish' until I decided to Google for the actual difference between all of the different types of sticky deliciousness. It turns out that a chutney is more savoury, has vinegar or spices or sugar that act as preservatives and is mostly spicy with some amount of sweetness and tang to it. It is also slow cooked until a jam like consistency is achieved while a 'relish' is not cooked for as long, retains most of its shape and texture and has a shorter shelf life, perhaps two weeks at the most. Jams and preserves on the other hand are pretty similar except that jams are made of pureed fruit or its juice and preserves have more chunky bits of fruit in them. Conserves on the other hand are a mixture of fruits and warm spices or dried fruit or nuts. That leaves us with jellies - well, these are pretty much a jam that has been thickened to the point where you can cut a piece and it would retain its shape.
These are just the more popular kind of sweet and savoury condiments. I am yet to dive into the delicious world of making marmalades, compotes, mostardas, confits and fruit butters
They say necessity is the mother of all inventions and I am so glad that I was stuck with this pile of semi ripened mangoes and that I chanced upon this idea of making some good ol' chutney with it. The whole process was very therapeutic for me, maybe because I enjoy making things like jams and wines. I actually began to wonder why I never thought of making chutneys all this while! I think its such a lovely condiment to have in your culinary repertoire.
What I liked most about this chutney was that it was made of semi ripe mangoes so there was a bit of a tang from the raw mangoes and the beautiful sweetness from the ripe mangoes - combined together, that reminded me so much of the flavours of Mangalore. A spoonful of this awesome sweet-spicy-tangy chutney transported me straight home - in a flash I saw myself sitting on the steps of my modest tiled house munching on semi ripe mango 'pachadi' - something like a raw mango salsa you could say. I associate the aroma of mangoes with the Indian summers and I was overcome by the feeling of nostalgia.
A few years ago my grandma made some mango chutney that wasn't as spicy and wasn't so deep in its colour. It was more like a pale yellow which I believe is the way it is made in Mangalore. Not sure if anyone makes it anymore but somehow I forgot to carry it back with me to Mumbai after the holiday. I want to kick myself for having done that. If I had tasted it I would have perhaps been able to attempt to recreate it. Now I have to wait for my next trip to Mangalore to be able to ask my granny how she makes it and I really hope she still recalls her recipe.
For now, here's my version of the mango chutney made with a little bit of sugar, a little bit of spice and loads of semi ripe mangoes. Slather some over chapathis or bread or just steal some spoonfuls every once in a while! Delish!
If you like this recipe do check out the other condiment recipes here and here
Prep time: 15 mins | Cook time: 20-30 mins | Yield: 1 small jar
- 1 cup of pulp from 8-9 small semi ripe mangoes
- 1/2 medium sized onion
- 1/2 inch ginger, finely minced
- 1/2 inch stick of cassia bark or cinnamon
- 2-3 cloves
- 7-8 tablespoons of granulated sugar (adjust to taste, according to the sweetness of the mangoes)
- a few strands of saffron
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of plain red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (use less and increase as you go)
- 2-3 drops of oil
1. Heat oil in a heavy based, non stick pan/kadhai and toss in the onions and stir them for half a minute taking care to see that they don't burn. Just fry until they turn limp.
2. Add the chopped/mashed mango pulp and the rest of the ingredients. Rinse the bowl containing the mashed pulp with approx 1/2 cup of water and add that too.
3. Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, on a medium heat till it thickens up. Take care to see that it doesn't stick to the pan. Do a few taste checks and add additional sugar, salt or chilli powder as required (depending on how sweet/salty/spicy you want your chutney)
4. When the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan, remove it from heat and pour in sterilized glass jars. Let the mixture cool down completely before covering them with lids. Refrigerate for longer use.
5. Serve as a chutney (with dosas) or spread (for chapathis or bread or parathas) or marinade for chicken before roasting it.
1. Depending on how much pulp you are using and on what level of heat, the cooking process could take anywhere between 15-25 mins to achieve the consistency of jam. Do make sure to keep an eye out and stir frequently or else it will burn. Also, once the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan (thickens up) remove it from heat. Do remember that once it cools down completely it will begin to set even further so don't overcook the mixture, if it seems a little wettish its fine as it will turn into the perfect, spreadable consistency once cooled. If you overcook it, it will turn really thick and harden upon cooling - remember, sugar crystalises and turns hard when it cools