Thursday, 3 January 2013

A summertime gift: Stephanie Alexander's Mango Chutney

When I first bought my apartment, like most people, funds were a little tight. Christmas was looming, as was the thought of buying lots of Christmas presents with a smaller budget that usual. So that year, I decided to do things a little differently. I decided that rather than buying my friends crappy presents with a small budget, I'd make them something. No need to spend big bucks, but I'd be able to give something that was worth something. So I made marinated olives (these ones) and mango chutney as presents, and it's an idea that kind of stuck. It even went down so well, that after that first year a friend of mine, Claire, joined me and now we get together every December to make our friends chutney, or jam, or some other delicious preserve. Most years, the bonus is that we have a little left-over for ourselves.

I love trying out new jams and preserves, but every few years, we come back to that original mango chutney, because it's just that good. And this year was one of those years!
A few notes before we begin. You need to leave the mango in the salt for a few hours, or overnight even, to help draw out some of the moisture, so make sure you have the time to do this. You also need to sterilise the jars you're using (some quick instructions below), so leave time for that as well. As for the mangoes, technically it's supposed to be green mangoes, but I've never used them. I usually just find nice sweet mangoes that are on sale and use them. They can be a bit bruised and battered, but that doesn't matter for this recipe as you boil it for quite a while. This is one dish you can make a few batches at once. In fact, this year, we had two BIG pots on the boil with 2.5 batches in each, and it worked perfectly. You just need pots big enough.

1.5kg green mangoes, peeled and diced
50g salt
250g tamarind pulp (you can get this at Asian grocers or Thomas Dux)
700g brown sugar
2 C white-wine vinegar
100g raisins or sultanas
100g freshly chopped ginger
6 dried red chillies, coarsely chopped (although I use fresh ones)
1 Tbs whole allspice

The night before, or first thing in the morning, before making the chutney you need to sit your mango in the salt. Basically, just peel and dice the 1.5kg mangoes, and put the pulp into a stainless steel bowl with the 50g salt and mix it around a bit. This needs to sit for at least a few hours, or if you want, overnight.
When I start actually making the chutney, I usually begin by sterilising my jars. I start this first so that I know the minute the chutney or jam is done, my jars will be too so they won't be sitting around waiting to be filled. Ideally you want to use glass jars. I save up the glass jars I use throughout the year for jams and things like that, but for Christmas presents I buy nice new ones.  I sterilise jars the easy way, no need to make things more difficult on ourselves! Run the jars and lids through a rinse cycle of the dishwasher, ideally on it's hottest setting. You can hand wash them in boiling water, but this takes a little more time and is a little more messy. Then, put them upright on an oven tray into a cold oven, and turn it up to 120 degree celsius and leave them in the oven for 30mins and you're ready to go.
While the jars are sterilising, you can start making the chutney. Peel and chop the 100g ginger, and chop up the dried chillies. If you're using fresh ones, take out the seeds and membrane and dice up the chillies. You can leave some of the seeds if you want, it just depends how spicy you want the chutney.

Put the salted mango pulp into a colander and drain it well. No need to keep the liquid. Once it's well drained, put the pulp into a nice big stainless steel pot. Add in the 250g tamarind pulp, 700g brown sugar, 2 C white-wine vinegar, 100g raisins or sultana's, chopped ginger, chopped chillies and 1 tbs whole allspice.
Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring relatively regularly to stop it sticking to the bottom.
Once it's boiled, reduce the temperature and leave it to simmer.
Cook for 40min, or until the mango is nice and soft and it turns a brown, chutney colour. I find it takes a while longer than 40mins.
Once you're happy it's cooked, but it straight into the sterilised jars. Clean the jar top and put the lid on. The chutney and the jar will be hot, so be careful!

This chutney is better after it's matured for a little while, and lasts forever in the cupboard, so don't be afraid to make a little extra for yourself. I tend to eat it on cheese, or marinate and grill chicken in it.

I'm lucky enough to have a sister who's a graphic designer, but if you want to make the jars look at little festive or special, do a bit of google searching for free labels, and you'll come across some lovely ones. Or else, you can spend a few worthwhile dollars on Etsy and get someone to make them for you.

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