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indian-spiced chutney to relish

(recipe, Sarah Gilbert)


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Introduction

In my Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery (thank goodness: of the few I've found so far in thrift stores, I have the volume Q-Sor), the section I devoured this weekend goes this way: "RELISH--As a verb "to relish" means "to enjoy," and when the word relish is used as a culinary term it can be, and is, applied to a wide range of foods and food preparations served as accompaniments to add zest, flavor and variety to the main dishes of a meal. Olives and such vegetables as celery, radishes, cucumbers, carrots and cauliflower, when served raw are one major type of relish. A second major type includes such widely used condiments as ketchup and chutney..." So that when I searched online to find a recipe for an Indian-spiced chutney like the one I took home from a canning party last year, it occurred to me to also try the word "relish." Indeed, the recipes I found were equal parts "chutney" and "relish," and many of them seemed about right. None quite perfect, though, so I mixed and mingled. And here: an Indian-spiced chutney to relish.

Ingredients

  1. 4 Tbsp. oil (it should rightly be mustard oil, but olive will do in a pinch)
  2. 1 tsp. onion seeds (also called "nigella" -- I gathered my own from my garden, another story for another day)
  3. 2 tsp. fennel seeds
  4. 2 tsp. brown mustard seeds
  5. 2 tsp. cumin seeds
  6. 4 to 6 dried hot chiles (mine were mostly serranos)
  7. ½ tsp. asafoetida
  8. 1 large onion, diced
  9. 1 cup apple cider vinegar (it's what I used; rice wine vinegar would be better)
  10. 1 cup jaggery (the Indian name: it's "rapadura sugar" in the co-op here. Or use sugar)
  11. 4 to 6 lb. roma tomatoes or other sauce-type tomato
  12. salt

Steps

  1. Measure out the spices, chop the onion and blanch the tomatoes. Set aside.
  2. In a large, deep-sided pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the seeds and chiles and cook, stirring, for a minute or two.
  4. Sprinkle in the asafoetida and stir in the onion; reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until onions are soft.
  5. Meanwhile, peel your tomatoes and chop roughly. (All of the recipes, including the one we made last year, say not to peel your tomatoes. I hated the peels in the final product, and picking them out is no good! This is my way.)
  6. Add sugar and vinegar and let cook a few minutes while you finish peeling and chopping the tomatoes. This is a big job.
  7. As you go, stir in the tomatoes and adjust heat to a nice bubble.
  8. Cook for as long as it takes to become a smooth, rich paste. A few hours probably.
  9. Taste, adding salt, sugar, vinegar or hot pepper as desired. Remove hot chiles.
  10. Prepare canning jars; the recipe will make 3-4 pints.
  11. Remove from heat and ladle into prepared canning jars.
  12. Process in a 180 degree hot water bath for 10 minutes for half-pint jars, 15 minutes for pint jars.