Sugar and spice…granny smith

Take one granny smith. Cut it into half. Use one half to make a spicy mint chutney and the other to make a dessert filling.

Well let’s start with the spicy mint and apple chutney using a recipe from An Indian Housewife’s Recipe Book . This uses a combination of mint, apple, onion, chillies and some spices to make a chutney. I didn’t have enough mint and was in no mood to blow my head off with the amount of chilies in the recipe. So what I ended up with, whilst still very spicy, was a bit watery. We had it at dinner tonight with some black pepper papads but I’m afraid it was a bit blah.  I’ve stuck it in the fridge and will see how it tastes tomorrow.

That left me with half a granny smith. Well sugar with spice is a bit nice. So I decided to chop the apples up, bung them in a pan with a spoonful of sugar and a smattering of cinnamon.

  

Whilst the apple stewed, I waltzed over to the freezer and took out some ready made vol-au-vents. These are the simplest things to use, heat the oven, brush edges of cases with milk or egg, cook for 15-17 minutes turning halfway through. Unfortunately, sometimes simple is still too complicated. I mean what does turn me – rotate or flip over? Anyhoooo, the first batch burnt. I blame it on our new non-fan electric oven that has a rather odd smell to it. The second batch worked out just fine. After they were cooled, I loaded them up with the apple sauce and put the back in the oven to stay warm …the oven though off would take a long time to cool down.

And the result….Absolutely delicious served with some Mackies vanilla ice-cream which offset the sour apple filling just perfectly. Will definitely be making those again.

Advertisements

Spicy apple pickle

Hmmm nothing better than biting into a crisp, fresh, apple. And we are smack bang in the middle of apple season here in the UK. I just recently found out that apples were brought over here many centuries ago from the east. So bizarre as for me apples are quintessentially English.

I blagged some free from my friend Livi who has an apple tree growing in her garden. You wouldn’t find these marvellously misshapen beauties in the uniformity-obsessed supermarket! I decided to use the smaller two for  a very quick spiced apple pickle (large one saved for apple crumble). And here is my dirty secret confession…I  don’t make the spice mix from scratch as my 3-year-old demands my attention. So I use Jalpur Achar Masala which is available online or from your friendly local Indian grocery.

A Gujarati meal is not complete without some pickles and chutneys. And unlike restaurants where they are served as an appetiser with papads, pickles in Guju household are eaten with the main meal, as are papads! This one works with crisp, slightly sour apples.

Before we start, I have to make a small point about the oil used. In India, mustard oil is used for pickles. It gives them a special ‘pickle’ flavour. However, it seems that a systematic (corporate, Western) campaign has resulted in this oil being banned for edible use in Europe, Canada and America. And the production of it is banned in India which I just find disgusting as it was a major source of revenue for many small villages and towns.

I’ve done some research and cannot find any real studies to show the issues with mustard oil. So until there is scientific proof that it’s bad for humans (and not rats) then I’ll use it. Luckily it’s available in my local Indian stores.  But hey, it’s not vital and I’m not dogmatic. My dad makes this pickle too and happily uses olive oil… and when I visit him, I greedily eat up his pickle. So it’s up to you – mustard or olive. Or even rapeseed oil. Or if you are willing to go to the expense, there is an Australian company called Yandilla  that sells edible pungent mustard oil. Soooo much choice.

Ingredients:

  • 300 g apples
  • 30 ml mustard oil. Alt extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil.
  • 2 tsp Jalpur Achar Masala mix
  • Lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar

Preparation

  • Wash and core the apples. Cut them into small 2 inch pieces. Then squirt some lemon juice over the apples to stop them browning

  • Heat the mustard oil over a gentle heat until it starts to smoke. Then turn off and let cool
  • Put the apple pieces into a bowl and add spice mix and sugar. Stir well. I don’t want the pickle too hot so only use 2. With time and practice, you can decided the right amount for your taste
  • When the oil has completely cooled, pour over apples and again stir well.
  • Put into a sterile jar. When you wants some make sure you use a clean spoon which helps the pickle last for at least a week in the fridge.

Lilee chutney (green chutney)

Green chilie chutney

Looking for the perfect accompaniment to go with your samosas, bhajias and pakoras? An excellent and easy to make chutney is lilee chutney which is green chutney. The green comes from chillies and fresh coriander. I especially like eating this on freshly made, ghee smeared rotlis first thing in the morning with a cup of tea. Today I swapped a meal of green chutney, puris and pea&potato shak for a ukulele lesson 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 100g red peanuts (get raw uncooked ones from your local Indian grocer)
  • 1 bunch fresh fragrant coriander.
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 6 or 7 chillies (optional to use more or less depending on how hot you want it)
  • Water as needed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar

Preparation:

  • Carefully check through your peanuts to make sure there are no dud ones.
  • Wash the coriander thoroughly. Cut off the bottom segment of stems (just hold the whole bunch and cut across about 4 inches). Then chop up both the leaves and remaining stems roughly. Believe it or not these stems hold a lot of flavour
  • Cut the top off the chillies and then roughly chop into 1cm pieces

Cooking:

You don’t really cook anything but as most of my recipes are sorted into Ingredients/Preparation/Cooking, I thought I’d use the pattern here

  • In a grinder, chop the peanuts to a coarse consistency like breadcrumbs in appearance
  • Add the coriander, chillies and lemon juice to the grinder and whizz it up. If you find that it’s not whizzing add a little water at a time until you have a consistency like double cream …that is not so runny that it just runs off a spoon but not so solid that it doesn’t move off.
  • Take out into a bowl and stir in the salt and sugar. The amount you put in is entirely up to your tastes so just add as you want. You may also want to top up the lemon juice.

Serve with your favourite snacks. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge in a glass jar for a week.

Variations:

You can add favourite ingredients like desiccated coconut, finely crushed garlic or grated ginger. The quantities are dependant on your tastes but I’d advise adding a little at a time as it’s much easier to put in than take out (yes, yes, I’m stating the obvious, it’s a character flaw!)