When life gives you mangoes, make mango chutney

When Owen worked in a smoothie bar, he used to bring home all the old mangoes when they’d outlived their time on the fruit display at the front of the bar. I always thought it was a bit odd that they didn’t actually use these mangoes in the drinks and bought in boxes of mango purée instead, but I guess it would be a bit of a hassle peeling and chopping loads of fresh mangoes. Anyhow, the free mangoes were all very good, but there’s only so much fresh mango two people can eat without getting fed up with it. So, I looked for alternative uses for all these slightly wrinkly looking mangoes which were cluttering up my kitchen. I’ve tried all sorts of things, including mango jelly (which was my first attempt at making proper jelly and didn’t turn out very well) and mango cake (which was a disaster- just an absolute mess). The only mango-based cooking venture that’s really been a success for me is mango chutney, of which I’ve made countless batches since finding out how to make it. The recipe below is my version of one I found on the BBC Food website (read it here, if you like). I’ve cut out the bit at the beginning about salting the sliced mangoes, as while I’m generally fairly patient with cooking, I didn’t really see the point in doing this. If you’ve only got two or three mangoes, just adjust the amounts of ingredients accordingly.

Ingredients

  • 4 large mangoes (peeled, stoned and chopped into small chunks)
  • 2 cooking apples (peeled, cored and chopped into small chunks)
  • 450g (1lb) caster sugar
  • 600ml (1 pint) white wine vinegar
  • A chunk of root ginger- about the size of two thumbs (peeled and grated)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (peeled and crushed or finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon English mustard powder

Put all the ingredients into a big pan or pot and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for while (at least 30 minutes) until the chutney is thick and syrupy. Put into hot, sterilised jars and seal (I use cellophane over the top secured with an elastic band, then put the screw top lid on).

A note about blue garlic

I’ve noticed that when I make this chutney, the garlic tends to go a kind of bluish-green colour. I assumed that this was due to some sort of chemical reaction between the sulphur in the garlic and the acidic vinegar, and a quick bit of Googling confirmed my theory. I’m not sure of the exact scientific logistics of it, but apparently it’s not harmful in any way, even though it does look a little unsightly. If you have any tips on how to avoid this, please do share.

Growing a mango plant

I never seem to have grown out of my childlike fascination with germinating and growing seeds and stones from fruit and other random plants. As an aside from the above recipe, this is how to sprout a mango stone and (hopefully) grow your own mango plant if you’re that way inclined…

Now, before you get excited about having your own mango tree and picking fresh mangoes, warm from the sun- these plants are unlikely to survive indefinitely in our unpredictable UK climate, and even if they did grow big enough to fruit, the mangoes would apparently be horrible and fibrous (I’m basing that last bit on what I’ve read online- I obviously don’t know from experience). So yeah, I don’t want to be a party pooper, but this is still a fun project, especially for children, should you have/ know any.

Start with a stone from a mango that’s had all the flesh stripped away from it. This should be a long, oval type thing with fibres and things all stuck to it. This is actually more of a ‘pod’, and the seed you want is inside. Use a paring knife to slide gently into the ‘seam’ around the edge, being careful not to damage the seed. Carefully use your fingers to prise open the pod, to reveal what looks like a big bean. Plant this in a pot with the end poking out of the soil, then put a clear plastic bag over the pot and tie at the top to make a kind of mini greenhouse. Leave this somewhere warm and sunny until the seed sprouts, then take the bag off and leave in a warm, sunny place to grow.

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Thai Green Curry Paste

I’ve got a thing about making curry at the moment. I recently tried out a recipe that I found on Recipe Rifle (Esther Walker’s recipe blog) for butter chicken, which was in turn a Hugh Fearnley-Whatshisface recipe, and it was lovely (you can read the recipe here). Although it’s a bit of a faff to make initially, the recipe made enough to put three spare portions of sauce in the freezer, and you don’t even have to bother defrosting them- just whack them in the pan whenever you fancy a curry.

Anyway, I’ve been wanting to make some Thai green curry paste for a while, just to see how it turned out and whether it was worth the bother. I tried some of it last night and it actually was worth the bother, so when I’ve used up all the portions in the freezer I’m definitely going to make some more.

I’ve cobbled together my own recipe from lots of different ones, and it goes a little something like this:

Ingredients

  • 6-8 green chillies, halved and de-seeded
  • 5 large banana shallots (or 8-10 smaller shallots), peeled
  • 6 large-ish cloves garlic (or equivalent), peeled
  • 6 thin or 3 fat lemongrass stalks, outer layer removed, topped and tailed to leave the tender parts and chopped into shorter lengths
  • A sploosh of fish sauce
  • 5 or 6 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 large or 3 small limes (zest and juice)
  • large bunch fresh coriander
  • ginger or galangal or mixture of both (equivalent of a large hand), peeled
  • a generous sprinkling of cumin seeds
  • a generous sprinkling of ground coriander
  • palm sugar (a couple of tablespoons worth)
  • some peppercorns

Obligatory picture of the finished (and frozen) product

Whizz all the ingredients in a food processor, then whizz with a hand blender to make sure everything is well puréed (I know this makes more washing up, but my food processor couldn’t quite manage to purée the last few chunks of ginger). Freeze in individual portions (I use tiny 5cm by 5cm by 5cm Tupperware pots).

To make a curry to serve two people:

Fry up your preferred curry ingredients (I’d suggest chicken or prawns, with some sliced onion and crunchy veg), then add a portion of defrosted curry paste and 200ml coconut milk (as this is half a normal tin, I usually freeze the rest). Maybe also add an extra splosh of fish sauce. Serve with rice.

The paste above is tailored to my own heat tolerance (i.e. quite mild), but add more chilli if you like it a bit hotter.

A note about ingredients:

I happened to find some galangal in Bartlett and White, which is a greengrocer in Ramsgate of all places- I think you can also sometimes get it from small Asian food shops, though ginger would be a cheaper and, I’m sure, perfectly acceptable substitute. Most of the other ingredients can be bought in supermarkets.