28 - Sweet Tomato Chutney

I triple or quadruple this recipe before packing it into 8-ounce jars, which I give for Christmas presents every year. I have to make a huge amount because everyone exchanges gifts at Katya’s Christmas dinners. These little glowing jars of red chutney are my regular contribution.

Canning is not strictly necessary. If I were just making it for myself I would just stick to the recipe as I write it here, and put the big jar in the refrigerator. I do the canning, in part so people won’t have to think twice about the refrigerator, but I also enjoy the rigmarole of buying jars, boiling them, figuring out the complicated procedure, etc. Again, it feels like a journey to a past that I never knew.

The recipe comes from Madhur Jaffrey’s An Invitation to Indian Cooking. I used it non-stop when we lived in Montreal. The nights were long and dark. Sam was tiny, but quite happy sitting in his little baby seat on the kitchen counter while I prepared massive Indian feasts. This recipe is the only one that has endured over the decades:

Put the cloves from an entire head of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped into a blender along with a peeled and coarsely chopped piece of fresh ginger, about 2 inches long and 1 inch thick and ½ cup of red wine vinegar. Blend at high speed until smooth.

In a four-quart heavy bottomed pan, put 1 pound 12 ounce can whole tomatoes with juice, 1 cup of wine vinegar, 1 ½ cups of granulated sugar, 1 ½ tsps. salt and a pinch or two of cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the puree from the blender and lower the heat, simmering gently, uncovered, for about two hours (when I make larger batches, it often takes longer—in part, I think, because there is so much liquid in the cans of tomato). In any case, the chutney should begin to thicken and the tomatoes should be fairly well broken up. I always find it hard to decide it’s done—and probably cook it longer than necessary—a film should coat a spoon dipped into it, but I’m never sure about that—in any case—I always cook it long enough. When it’s more or less done add two tablespoons golden raisins and two tablespoons blanched slivered almonds. Simmer, stirring, another five minutes. Turn heat off, cool, and then put in bottles (this amount you will surely devour—so no reason to work at preserving)

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