GROW FOOD slow food Have your garden and eat it too. A practical guide to organic gardening in the sub-tropics with step-by-step instructions and delicious seasonal recipes. Come with me too on some of my travels in Australia, Europe, Asia and beyond.
Thoughtful friends who know exactly what to give me for Christmas – a big bag of cow poo!

A hopeful, healthy and Happy New Year to the amazing 35,000 people who read this blog in 2012.  All I aspire is to is to give your heart some hope, your taste buds extra zing and more power to your green thumb!

I have been feeling sad – hence the quietness. My dear father died in November – it’s hard to lose people you love and you know who truly loved you.  Then, just when I returned to Australia, my dear friend lost her 19 year old son in a tragic car accident. A time for reflection.

However, it’s hard to be sad with six grandchildren around.  There has been very little gardening done over the festive season, but lots of cooking, cooking, cooking!  Finally, they have all gone home and I can think about the coming year.  I am aiming for a little more ‘me’ time in 2013.  We’ll see.

Mango tree with fruit about to ripen

One of the benefits of a long, dry winter has been the amazing display of all the tropical flowering trees – and this includes the mango.  It flowers around October and we hope for no big storms then as they knock the flowers off – and this means no fruit.  Not this year.  Shortly we will all be woken up to the sounds of mangos dropping on tin roofs – it sounds like a thunderclap.  These gorgeous trees are just laden with ripening fruit – happy days.

This is a recipe I have been making for many years to give as Christmas gifts.  When I lived in Sydney my dear friend, Sheila and I, would toil happily over a big bubbling pot of mango chutney.  Peeling and dicing mangoes is a messy business and it’s always better shared over a cup of tea and a chat.  This works best when the mangoes are slightly green and you end up with some some residual chunks – instead of a kind of jam (which still tastes good!)

Mango Chutney

So, since it is very easy to make, here is a recipe which includes large luscious chunks of mango. It is really good served with cold ham, poultry or game – or, of course, any kind of curry.

This is, honestly, the best mango chutney I have ever tasted!  I have been tweeking it for about twenty years to perfect the consistency and flavour.

  • 2.5 kilos of slightly under-ripe mangoes
  • 700g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 level teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 heaped teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 12 cardamom pods, bruised in a mortar and pestle to expose the seed
  • 1 level teaspoon ground red chilli
  • 1 level teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 110g fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 level teaspoon ground cloves
  • 350 ml malt vinegar
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 heaped teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 brown onions, peeled and finely chopped.
  • To sterilise jars, they should be washed, dried and heated in a moderate oven for 5 minutes.
    You will also need a preserving pan or large wide saucepan.
My Mango Chutney
  1. Begin this recipe a day ahead by preparing the mangoes. The easiest way to do this is to cut the two cheeks away from the stone with the skin on.  Segment the flesh of each cheek with a paring knife in a criss-cross fashion into bite size pieces.  Scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
  2. Peel the skin off the remaining flesh on the stone and slice off the flesh.
  3. Then sprinkle the sugar over the fruit in the bowl, turning it lightly to distribute the sugar evenly, cover and leave it in a cool place overnight (or a couple of hours if you are in a hurry)
  4. This chutney really works best if the cumin, cloves and coriander  are freshly ground.  I have bought an electric spice grinder just for this purpose and the difference really is in the taste!  It explodes in your mouth.
    Add the freshly ground spices, leaving the cardamom whole but slightly bruised, and add all the other ingredients.
  5. Heat it until it begins to bubble and let it simmer for about 2 hours, stirring from time to time, until the mango becomes translucent and the liquid has almost evaporated, leaving behind a thick syrup.
  6. You will need to do a bit more stirring from time to time at the end to prevent it catching.
  7. After that remove the chutney from the heat, let it cool for 15 minutes then ladle it into warm sterilized jars. Seal whilst the chutney is still hot and label when cold. Best if left to mature for a few weeks, but you can eat it straight away. 
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