Monthly Archives: January 2015

Mango Chutney

This chutney bears little resemblance to the chutneys one buys in jars. It is fresher, brighter, and less acidic. It is both authentic and absolutely delicious. It makes a nice accompaniment to Indian food, but it is also great with a simple roasted chicken, or even to spark up some cottage cheese. Enjoy.

Aam Chatni
(Mango Chutney)

1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 tsp. cumin seeds
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin slivers
1 clove garlic, minced
2 medium-ripe mangoes (about 3/4-lb. each), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of cloves
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add cumin seeds and fry, stirring constantly, until lightly colored, about 30 seconds. Add the ginger and garlic and fry, stirring, for another 30 seconds. Add the mango, pepper flakes, cinnamon, cloves, lime juice, sugar, and salt. Mix thoroughly and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mango softens and the liquid begins to thicken, about 15-20 minutes. Can be served warm or cold. Can be kept in the refrigerator, in a closed container, for up to 6 days. Makes about 2 cups.

Note: Mangoes have a single large, flat seed, to which the flesh sticks tenaciously. The easiest way to cut up a mango is to slice from the top, find that seed with your knife blade, and let the blade follow the flat contour of the seed. That way, you get nice, large “fillets” of mango. To get chunks of mango, simply slice through the flesh, but not the skin, in a checkerboard pattern, and then cut the flesh away from the skin. (Don’t peel the mango before gutting the flesh away from the seed, because the fruit is very slippery, and you’re more likely to get cut.)


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When I arrived in Chennai in southern India, almost the first thing my guide pointed out was the mango trees. He told us that there are 400 varieties of mango in India, which is about half of the varieties that exist worldwide. It may seem to us in a temperate climate that a fruit tree is not the first thing you’d point out to a foreign visitor, but the mango is not just another fruit tree; mangoes are the most important fruits in the world, and in fact are one of the planet’s 15 most important food crops. And nowhere is this more evident than in India.

Mangifera indica is, as the name indicates, indigenous to India, or at least partly to India, with its most likely natal region stretching from eastern India through Myanmar. Mangoes were being cultivated long before history was being recorded, but they were slow to spread. The fruit is extremely perishable, and even the seeds don’t remain viable for long. The Greeks and Romans never saw mangoes–with the possible exception of Alexander the Great, but only because he invaded India. But if he did see mangoes, he didn’t mention them, and none went back to Europe with him (not that they would have survived the trip). Continue reading

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Taming Those Foil and Wrap Rolls

I actually discovered this about five or six years ago (after a lifetime of not knowing about it), but I find that there are still people who haven’t discovered this trick. It makes life in the kitchen just a tiny bit easier. This applies to most (though not all) of the things that come in roll form, including waxed paper, aluminum foil, and plastic wrap. Hope this helps.

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Fun Fact: Fishing

I was tipped off to this fun fact by Jen, a woman who publishes a fly fishing magazine for women. She related that the earliest known book on fishing was in fact written by a woman–and was published in 1496. Of course, the news that a woman was writing about fly fishing 500 years ago piqued my curiosity. I had to dig deeper.

Titled A Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle, the book was written by Dame Juliana Berners. An angle is a hook, and its originally being called an angle is why we call fishing with a hook and line (vs. nets or traps) angling. Dame Juliana was an English noblewoman and prioress who loved, and was good at, fishing, hunting, and heraldry. A bit more research turned up the fact that Treatyse is still admired, as it was a remarkable work for its detail and vision. It offered a comprehensive guide for the anglers of its time, with information on fishing destinations, rod and line construction, and selection of natural baits and preferred artificial fly dressings categorized by the season during which they’d offer best results. However, as valuable as that information is, the thing that makes the book most remarkable is its foresight. There are essays on the virtues of conservation, respecting the rights of streamside landowners, and angler’s etiquette, with ideas that have really gained traction in recent decades. Also remarkable is that you can get it on Amazon!

As for Jen’s magazine, it’s a handsome and useful work for today’s anglers. You can check it out here: Dun Magazine: A New Rise in Fly Fishing.

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