This recipe and history lesson come from SFDC board member/chef/food historian, Mark Haskell. (We try to feature a delicious new recipe in each newsletter If you would like to have one shared with the SFDC community, please send it to email@example.com and we’ll see what we can do.)
Chutney, according to the dictionary, is a spicy condiment made of fruits or vegetables with vinegar, spices, and sugar, originating in south Asia or India. It became very popular among foreigners during the British Raj in Asia, and was then widely adopted in England, Europe and the United States.
Chutney is almost always used as accompaniment to a main dish to add a sweet and sour or pickled element to a dish, and may be cooked or uncooked in its preparation. There are hundreds of different chutneys, and may be used either to be soothing by using more coconut and yogurt, or more herbal with fresh coriander and mint, aromatic with cinnamon and cardamom, spicy with lime and chiles, or sweeter with mango, apples and raisins.
During the late summer and fall around DC and the Chesapeake we have lots of figs and chile peppers ready to harvest. My Virginia aunts always used seeded red cayennes for their fig and plum chutneys, I prefer green chiles, serranos or cayennes.
- 2 1/2 cups white vinegar
- 1 cup of sugar or honey
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1/4 cup, peeled chopped fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- Chile peppers, fresh, chopped** you have to use your own judgement, amount of heat you can handle, or add later **
- 2 pounds firm, underripe fresh figs, rinsed, stems removed and halved
Combine the vinegar, sugar/honey, onion, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, lemon zest, cinnamon stick, salt, allspice, cloves and chiles and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until mixture is greatly reduced by more than half, forming a thick syrup.
Add the figs and simmer gently until the figs are soft and most of the fig liquid has evaporated, about 30-40 minutes.
Allow chutney to cool to room temperature before bottling or canning. The chutney may be stored in the refrigerator sealed in an airtight container for several weeks or months.