Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

Making Chutney

René brought home a whole watermelon a few days ago, and while carving it up, I got inspired to make a chutney out of the rinds. I always hate to throw them away, because growing up in the South, where watermelons are sweet and plentiful, some of the ladies in the neighborhood used to make pickles out of the rinds. With that as my inspiration, I went online, located a couple of enticing watermelon chutney recipes and tried them both. One of them called for both the flesh and the rind, seasoned with curry powder and sweetened with brown sugar. It turned out remarkably similar to a standard mango chutney, only not quite as sticky. The other recipe wanted the rinds only and was spiced with lots of ginger and hot chilis and sweetened with regular white sugar. The result was a much spicier, syrupy chutney. Of the two, it was definitely my favorite. It was so good that after I filled a jar to the rim with it, René and I ate the leftovers with a spoon.

Having had such satisfying success with my first foray into making my own chutney, I went right out and bought all the ingredients to try my hand at a few more recipes. My neighbor had given me some lovely vine-ripened tomatoes, so I made a red tomato chutney spiced with cumin and coriander that turned out rather like a thick, sweet ketchup. From the other fruits I made peach chutney spiced with garam masala, apple-raisin chutney spiced with curry powder, and pineapple chutney spiced with a pinch of garam masala and lots of fresh ginger root.

As always, I improvised the recipes, and seasoned them so that each has its own unique flavor. I didn't want them to taste too similar to each other. I was going for variety, and with all the ripe flavors of the fresh fruits and the different spices in each one, I think I have quite a lovely array of condiments to serve with my Curried Lamb Stew and Chicken Vindaloo.

So, after my abounding success in making six different kinds of chutney, you can bet your ghee and garam masala that I will never again pay seven bucks at the grocery store for a five ounce jar of Major Grey's.