I, for one, know it is when mangoes only cost 50 cents a piece at Walmart! If you prefer dates on a calendar then May and June are the months to keep an eye out for the lowest priced and best tasting mangoes. Time for a decision. Was I feeling in the mood for Mexican or Indian? Why choose? Especially as the timing was perfect with 2 weeks of rain in the forecast so not a lot of fun in the Hammock sun in my immediate future.
Out with the chopping board, after a trip to our Far East Asian Market to pick up some additional ingredients. We already had the mangoes.
Mango and Tomatillo Salsa
Just these few ingredients:
In case you wondered what the tomatillos look like after their paper exterior is removed:
Dice up the mango, tomatillos and small serrano chile pepper. Squeeze the limes over all in a bowl and stir in the chopped cilantro. Add just a little salt and pepper if you like, to get this:
And when you are all done, you will have this:
Ha! Ha! These are the peelings and stems that go into our homemade composter that gives us over 200 lbs of our own “free” compost each year.
I hope you enjoyed that pictorial Mexican recipe. Time for something Indian, but don’t be put off if Indian isn’t your cup-of-tea. It’s time for Green Mango Chutney. Ever since I first tasted this condiment back in Dubai, I have been an aficionado. (The Spanish teacher in me cringed at having to put an “o” on the end of an adjective that describes a female, but English spellchecker demanded it.)
I never thought about making my own chutney back in those days. It wasn’t until living in England that I helped a friend make Green Tomato Chutney with the end of season tomatoes that were still hanging around her garden. For all the digs about British cuisine, it is still surprising that in 2001 the British foreign secretary, Robin Cook, called curry a national dish. He said: “Chicken tikka masala is now a true British national dish, not only because it is the most popular, but because it is a perfect illustration of the way Britain absorbs and adapts external influences.”
England really does have fantastic curry houses, but back to the subject at hand. Yes, chutney traditionally accompanied curries. The word itself comes from the Hindi “chatni” which meant something lip-smacking, ie tasty. The original ones were made with fresh herbs and fruits. The British and Major Grey, who was probably a mythical colonial officer brought green mango chutney to prominence. There is no copyright on the name Major Grey. However, I prefer to call the chutney what it is: Green Mango Chutney. It includes sugar and vinegar, dried fruits and spices. Be forewarned. For some reason, it seems to stink up your house. The resulting product is delicious, just “caveat creator”.
Chutney isn’t just for curries. We use it on all sorts of things. In fact, I had even contemplated marketing it to sell as it was so popular with my friends and colleagues. I did sell 12 cases of it to my fellow teachers and friends back in the day. I had created labels with a photo of my dream house and called my company “Mango House”. Mango salsa and mustard were also part of my product line. The chutney was the best repeat seller. It has an incredible shelf life and doesn’t require any special processing materials. It is perfect with hot dogs or bratwurst. It really complements cheese and crackers, especially a sharp cheddar. We love it with pate. I had a friend who bought it from me to put on salmon fillets before baking them in the oven. Back when spreads were popular, I made a very tasty one with cream cheese, curry powder and cilantro, topped with chutney, topped with chopped green onions and peanuts.
So, close your bedroom doors and turn on the exhaust fan and ready, set, go!
Green Mango Chutney
Yield about 4 lbs
This recipe came from The Complete Book of Preserving edited by Nicky Hayden and last published in the U.K. in 1984. The measurements and ingredients are adapted to what is easily available in the U.S.
Buy the firmest mangoes you can find.
3 lbs green mangoes, peeled, halved and stoned
3 oz salt
3 1/2 pints water
1 lb sugar
1 pint apple cider vinegar
3 oz fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons cayenne
2 inch piece stick cinnamon (I prefer Sri Lankan)
4 oz raisins
4 oz dried dates, chopped
Cut the mangoes into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl, sprinkle the salt over the top and pour in the water. Cover and set aside for 24 hours.
Drain the mango pieces and set aside. Place the sugar and vinegar in a preserving pan and bring to the boil. When the sugar is dissolved add the remaining ingredients and bring the mixture back to the boil, stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat and simmer the chutney, stirring frequently until it is thick; (about 45 minutes) then discard the cinnamon stick.
Now comes the interesting part. Into sterilized jars (washed, drained and warmed in oven to dry) put the chutney leaving a small space at the top. Screw on the metal tops and turn upside down on a rack to cool for 12 hours. This creates a seal and along with the quantity of sugar and vinegar in the recipe keeps the product from spoiling. Cool, huh?
Tip: You can make your own wide mouth funnel with one you already have by sawing it off at the desired width. The green one came from Walmart. It isn’t as good of a fit for my jar mouths but it still works.
If you don’t feel up to the effort, don’t miss the season or your chance to enjoy the over 20 vitamins and minerals in a mango. My favorite out of hand eating mango is the Ataulfo that comes from Mexico. The Far East Asian Market has them in right now and they are really big.