You would think, given that my shelves groan under the weight of pickles and jam, I might take a year off from preserving. Or that at least is what my husband hoped, but then on Saturday I was walking through Chapel Market, near my home in Islington, and I saw five large, no enormous, mangos for £2.50. I was lost, mango chutney called to me. This I hopes illustrates one of the rules I have for preserving and it is that you should pick what ever is good and plentiful and make your jams, chutneys and pickles from that bounty. This recipe is a family favourite and comes from my new book.
The word chutney comes from South East Asia, originally “Chatni” in Hindi, and it is mainly from the British Raj that we get our love of these flavoursome preserves. But chutneys predate our love affair with them, references tell us chutneys would be familiar to the Romans and it is said the Lord Nelson used a lime pickle to help prevent the scourge that was scurvy on Royal Navy ships.
I love the sweet, sharp, hot flavours that chutney adds to curries and, at my local Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants, I always fight to keep the dishes at the table to eat with main course rather than just with the appetiser or poppadoms, which is how they are traditionally served.
I find tradition sour lime pickle a little to much for me so would not have fared well in Nelson’s Navy but this chutney, mixing sweet and salt, hits the spot for me. Adding whole lemons to traditional mango chutney transforms it to a much more sophisticated relish. Serve it with curries, casseroles and stews or mix with mayonnaise and spread it on crusty bread for delicious chicken or beef sandwiches.
Un-waxed lemons work best but if you use ones that have been coated with wax this must be scrubbed of with hot water and a scourer before you cook them.Make the chutney when mangos are plentiful, it keeps well.
Mango and Lemon Chutney : A Perfect Preserve
675g dried fruit: Dates, apricots, figs, peaches, raisins
1500 gm about 4-5 large Mangoes
80gm root ginger
4 fresh red chillies
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
675g raw light brown sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt
1000ml cider vinegar.