Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tamarind chutney and begonia blossoms

I was supposed to be baking crackers and going to the library, and framing art and working in the studio and various other things today.  So I found myself making tamarind/date it goes. And here's the cast of ingredient characters posing in front of their script.

This is from the Edward Espe Brown book the Ds showed you the other day.  I have been wanting to use tamarind again for some time, found some tamarind extract at the Asian store, and thought it might be easier than the from scratch processing of the fruits that I did before.  After trying it, I think I'll pull back on the amounts next time around.  Or I might even make the pulp from scratch.

So today, since there was also a special on lemons, I was able to get into this.  I like the meditative aspect of making jams and pickles and chutneys, the kind of foods where you chop and squeeze and mince and  combine some very powerful and great smelling ingredients and stir quietly and let them blend. 

 Here in process, where you can still see the lemon peel and dates not yet softened to blend in

Here, almost cooked, and with mason jars sterilizing in boiling water in the background ready to be lifted out, drained and filled with hot chutney.  I sterilize even though I'm putting the chutney, once totally cooled, into the fridge, just because you never know.

This recipe made one small plus part of one larger mason jar of chutney. I made some adjustments to this recipe: added more dates after I saw it was too liquid at first (problem here was guessing how much was half a pound, since he didn't give a volume equivalent), and I added in more honey since the tartness was too much, then some granulated sugar to get the balance working better. Which it did.  He's good about reminding the cook to taste at intervals.

You'll see recipes for this which involve jaggery.  No worries -- it's the equivalent of equal parts of honey and molasses.  And this recipe has honey and molasses, so clearly he was onto this. And the flavors do better if they sit for a day or more after they're made, to blend and get acquainted.

This is spicy, sweetish, very tangy, and will go great with all kinds of foods.  A cheese sandwich is great with a spoonful of this added.  And when Handsome Son next comes over, there will be roast chicken and roast fries with chutney on the side.  If you're a meat eater, the red kind, it goes well with all kinds of meats, especially cold cuts.

And just to show I'm not the only worker around here, one of the upstairs begonias suddenly put out her spring pink blossoms, just what you need to see in the depths of winter.  So I moved her to a primo place, in the living room near the window along with the big plants. The other begonia, not blossoming, took her place upstairs and maybe that location will inspire her to blossom, too.



  1. Well, I was supposed to be going to the Post Office today to mail something, and I never left the place at all...ahem.
    I'll bet that chutney smells amazing! Years ago I made a green tomato chutney and it took ages to figure out how to use it to best advantage: 1) wait 5 months
    2) serve it with ham
    Oh my gosh, it was fantastic.

  2. I hope your little package has arrived? Maybe it's at the PO.


Thanks so much for commenting. I read all comments with care and much pleasure!