Tuesday, 1 July 2014

An Indian inspired apricot relish or may I call it a chutney?


My recent post about our glut of apricots set the tone for what I wanted to do with yet another batch  that were hanging heavy on our overladen tree. Something spicy. God forbid, yet another jelly or a jam would not do. It had to be a chutney of sorts—fruit and sugar cooked down in vinegar to a reduction that gave me a jar of gloriously coloured pickle.Ideally with jaggery instead of sugar(chance would be a fine thing in the Algarve ) and whats more I had no recipe.I copiously searched the internet to no avail while trying to keep abreast of an abundant harvest of apricots that was ripening before my very eyes.It was at this point, when I was seriously considering coming up with my own recipe, that I got sidetracked by trying to unearth the answer to another big question that has always befuddled me.What is the difference between a chutney and a relish? If I was going to add that coveted title of "recipe developer" to my resume,I must know the answer.In my store cupboard I had literally every spice and aromatic known to man, but what might I call the conglomeration of spices and fruit that were about to tossed into my preserving pan. My predicament now was still no recipe,a great question and no real definitive answer.Apparently the definition of a relish is a pickled condiment usually made up of chopped vegetables or fruit, vinegar, sugar and spices. The definition of a chutney is a relish made of fruits or vegetables, vinegar, sugar and spices. Adding more to the argument is that chutney, relish, salsa, and jam, can all share similar consistencies and flavours.
There is a big debate between chefs about defining the difference between a relish and chutney. Depending on where they are made, region to region, and chef to chef this definition changes. The term chutney originated from India, traveling it's way east over time. Relish, it has been said, originated in England. When England had a presence in India, the two terms began to be used interchangeably due to their similarities.
The cooking methods are almost the same and the ingredients can also be the same. Both relishes and chutney range from sweet to sour and spicy to savoury. As for consistency, they can both be chunky or smooth.I used no currants or raisins in the recipe and that is not truly traditional when making a chutney,so perhaps this is the key to what I actually produced - a relish.
Perhaps the most generalized distinction nowadays is that chutney is made mostly with fruits, and that relishes are made mostly with vegetables. While this distinction is gaining momentum in the culinary world, what still holds true is that both of them have near endless ingredient possibilities and can be named either one or the other. If you are making an Indian inspired relish as I have done, you might just call it a chutney.If you are blessed with an abundant crop of apricots, and you like the idea of spicy chutney more than a sweet jam or jelly, here´s one for you.But if you aren't as lucky as I was, you could use market or shop-bought apricots or substitute with peaches, figs, dates, raisins and fresh currants. But don't mock this recipe, for peaches are coming soon and I´m going to be trying this one again with a variation on at theme! Heaven help us I even started thinking of pittled presents to send back home for Christmas and we are only four days into summer.Well an expat has to think ahead- post early for Christmas and all that malarky.It could even become a two way family favourite.

 Beautiful deep orange fleshed apricots from the market

I can imagine this chutney being a beautiful colour...especially if one used the deep deep orange apricots. My apricots are the pale yellow ones but I gave them a boost by using Turmeric and a pale sugar as opposed to a dark one.I just guessed at the amount of jars it would fill as I had no recipe.

An Indian spiced apricot and apple chutney
1kg(2lb) fresh apricots, halved and stoned
300g Cooking apples,peeled cored and chopped 
2 lemons, zest and juice
275g(9oz) shallots,coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves,finely minced
75g (2.5oz) fresh ginger root,finely shredded
500ml cider vinegar
250g(8oz) sugar or jaggery if you can get it (see above)
1 heaped teaspoon asfoetida  
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 heaped teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon of caradamom pods shelled and crushed
Put all the fruit including the lemon zest and juice,the shallots,garlic,ginger ,spices and vinegar in a preserving pan.Bring slowly to the boil,then reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes until the apples are just soft and the shallots translucent.
add the sugar,stirring until it has dissolved.simmer for 35-40 minutes,until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick.Remove the pan from the heat.
ladle the mixture into hot sterilized jars,then seal immediately.
The chutney will be ready to eat in 1 month and has a shelf life of 6 months


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