Ask any American what they know about British cuisine and they are bound to tell you one of three things (only two of which are actually correct by the way):
1. Fish & Chips (duh)
2. It’s all bland and boiled (so outdated and untrue) and
3. Great Indian food!
The fish and chips are good, I mean they are slightly salty and dipped in batter and fried until crispy, so what’s not to like really. The second assumption is just plain outdated and based on post-war culture which included food rations. Totally not reflective of the multi-cultural influence and access to fresh ingredients that is today’s reality. However the third assumption about British cuisine, the access to and influence from incredible Indian food, for me, has been nothing short of eye-opening.
I grew up with very limited access to Indian cuisine, one restaurant to be exact. American Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Jewish American Deli, Mexican even Ethiopian food, but no real exposure when it came to Indian cuisine. When I moved from Cleveland to New Mexico I added Thai, Native American, New Mexican, and Vietnamese cuisine to the list, but again there was not much Indian food to be found.
I knew the UK, and London especially, boasted having some of the most delicious varieties of Indian cuisine available, so when I finally settled into my new city, you better believe I dragged all over the it, in attempt to try it all! I mean, I had only ever experienced cardamom in fancy coffee drinks before, so there were dishes and flavours that just blew my mind, not to mention my taste buds.
It’s been over nine years (NINE!) since I moved here. And while I still love going out for a good curry, given that my eating out time and funds are much more limited with children now in the mix, it is high time I bring the (not-so-new anymore) cuisine into my own home, and give my kids the exposure to Indian cuisine I wish I had growing up.
This recipe is a work-in-progress, though it’s still pretty tasty and a good first attempt I think. It came from a heaping of green tomatoes I wanted to get off the vine before the winter weather came in. This chutney, as with most, improves the longer it sits! I’m hoping it will serve as inspiration for future chutneys and further experiments. I couldn’t call it ‘Indian’ cuisine per say, but my house definitely smelled like chutney after making it, so it’s a step in the right direction! A ‘Gateway Chutney’ might be the most accurate title for it.
I’ve been using it in various ways, including below (top right part of the bowl) with my homemade Sweet Potato Curry topped with cottage cheese (I was *gasp* out of yoghurt!) Like I said, not so much with the ‘authentic’…but not bad for a girl from Cleveland…
“Gateway” Green Tomato Chutney- adapted from BBC Good Food
21/2kg green cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 heaped tbsp salt
500g apples, peeled and diced
500g light brown sugar
1/2 thumb ginger, grated
1 tsp cinnamon
1-2 cardamom pods, crushed
1L apple cider vinegar
Slice the tomatoes. Finely chop the onions. Layer both in a large bowl with the salt. Leave overnight or up to 3 days depending on how busy you are, how bad your memory is, or how much you like your fridge smelling of raw onions
Using a large sharp knife chop up the raisins as best you can- they get sticky! Dice your apple as well.
Add the sugar and vinegar into a large pot and bring to a boil, dissolving the sugar. Add the raisins, apples and spices and simmer for 10-15 minutes or so. Strain the tomato/onion mixture but don’t rinse out the salt, then add them into the pot and return to a boil.
Simmer for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thick and syrupy. Transfer to jars and cool before refrigerating. We are two weeks and counting on this so far and it’s only getting better!