I love fruits with spice. Not just any spice, mind you. Some fruits are made for particular spices, some not so much. It’s a bit like a school playground for the tastebuds. Let’s ponder this a little more; oranges love cloves like apples love cinnamon… and star anise fancies a little apple and orange. It’s a love triangle. Lemon and cardamom have been lifelong chums and are always ready indulge in a spot of tag, but if anyone else tries to join in they get a little uneasy. Oh, and strawberries are fond of black pepper but black pepper doesn’t really enjoy playing with other summer berries.
Do you follow?
Experimenting with fruits and spices is like entering yourself into a lottery where the combinations are extensive, as are the possibilities of amazing as well as not so amazing results. You’ve just got to be prepared to take a gamble. Are you feeling lucky?
I won’t lie; I have a tooth as sweet as a diabetic’s craving for syrup, so I only have one remedy for sour fruits like Greengages.
Please don’t judge me.
Unripened greengages are super sour and hardly edible without being incorporated into some sort of sugar-fuelled dessert. Trust me. They are a part of the plum family and share the same tartness as their purple-hazed cousins, but have an enviable greenness that the Hulk would be proud of.
They are certainly not a traditional Indian ingredient for chutneys, for they are a proud French ingredient… But you know how I love to play with binary opposites. East meets West anyone?
This chutney combines sour greengages, mild onions, sweet sultanas, aromatic fennel, heat-filled black peppercorns and strips of green chilli.
Fruity Greengage and Fennel Chutney
6 unripened greengages (about a cup), stoned and chopped into chunks
¾ cup onions, chopped finely
¼ cup golden sultanas
2 tbsp butter (or oil)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp fennel powder
½ tsp whole black peppercorns
1 hot green chilli, de-seeded and cut into thin strips
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and sauté the onions until translucent.
2. Add the chopped greengages and combine. Add the sultanas, black peppercorns and sugar and cook until thick and syrupy. Try not to stir too much as this will break up the nice, chunky pieces of greengage and onion. I just swirled the chutney in the pan (carefully) to prevent it from sticking.
3. Add the fennel powder and chilli strips and mix. At this point you could also add an extra tsp of butter to get a nice glossy sheen. You know I did.
4. Pile into a sterilised jar and refrigerate once cool.
Serve with crusty bread, in hearty cheese sandwiches, as a dip for poppadoms and spicy starters or scoop it up with your fingers and pile it into your mouth (probably best to do this when nobody is around). If you can’t get away from people then try using Indian breads (e.g. puris, chapattis, parathas, bhaturas) as shovels for your chutney-craving tongues.