Spicy Apricot Chutney

When our son returned from seven weeks in India, which included attending two weddings, he came home well acquainted with the flavors and subtleties of Indian food. He gifted me with a copy of 1,000 Indian Recipes. I have learned to trust author Neelam Batra’s excellent advice and recipes.

If you don’t have Indian spices on hand, look for an Indian grocery nearby or shop online at Kalustyan’s, https://foodsofnations.com/

I make several batches of this chutney each year. In early summer I take advantage of good prices on mangoes and use them in place of the apricots called for in the original recipe. When our peaches in the backyard are ripe, I make enough to get us through the winter and a few jars to tuck in Christmas stockings. Let me know how it turns out if you make it with apricots. Once you taste this you’ll never buy another jar of chutney. This is superior in every way.

This recipe calls for adding groups of ingredients at different stages in the preparation. Assemble those ingredients in separate small bowls so you can add them as they are called for. It makes for a much less frantic operation and nothing gets overlooked.

We especially love this chutney on Curried Tuna Cakes. I’ll share that recipe in the next few days.

Here’s the recipe as written in the cookbook, with my changes in italics:

Spicy Apricot Chutney Preserve

Aadu ki Chutni

Makes about 4 cups

¼ cup Basic Ginger-Garlic Paste

(directions in Step 1, below, or use store-bought)

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil

3 (1-inch) sticks cinnamon

6 to 8 black cardamom pods, crushed lightly to break the skin

8 whole cloves

3 small white or yellow onions, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 tsp. kalonji seeds

¾ tsp. ground fenugreek seeds

1 Tbsp. ground fennel seeds

5 to 7 green chile peppers, such as serrano, minced with seeds

2 pounds fresh unripe apricots, pitted and cut into wedges

(I use medium ripe to ripe fruit and like the outcome)

2 Tbsp. salt, or to taste (I use 1 ½ Tbsp.)

1 ½ cups sugar

1/4 to 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar

  1. Prepare the ginger-garlic paste: Use a micro-plane grater to grate 2 Tbsp. fresh ginger. Combine that with 2 Tbsp. finely minced fresh garlic and mix well. Then, heat the oil in a large non-stick wok or saucepan (I use a heavy-bottomed soup/stock pot) over medium-high heat and cook the cinnamon, cardamom pods, and cloves, stirring about one minute. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until golden, about 7 minutes. Add the kalonji, fenugreek and fennel seeds, and then mix in the garlic-ginger paste and green chile peppers and sauté about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the apricots, sugar, and salt and cook, stirring over medium heat until the sugar melts, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the sugar caramelizes into a rich golden color, the apricots are soft, and the chutney is thick, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the vinegar, and boil over high heat about 2 minutes, or until the chutney thickens once again. (Do not make the chutney very thick; it will thicken as it cools.) Let cool completely, and put in sterile jars. This chutney does not need to be refrigerated. It stays fresh about 6 months at room temperature. The color deepens over time, but that does not affect the taste.

My note: I pack the boiling hot chutney into hot, sterilized jars and seal with hot, sterilized lids. After opening the jars, I store the chutney in the refrigerator. Considering the sugar and vinegar in the recipe, this is probably not necessary, but I take these precautions anyway.


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