About this time last year my plum tree had a bumper crop. After I sorted through all the plums, I ended up with about 30 kilograms (60 pounds) of good, firm plums. I made plum jam, I made pickled plums, I froze them, I pureed them and I still had plums left over. A friend of mine had a wonderful idea, "Why don't you make plum chutney andbarbecue sauce with your plums," she suggested. Great idea, I thought, but where do I find a recipe for plum chutney? I had actually never heard of such a thing. I had made apple and mango chutneys, and decided that the texture of the plum was really quite similar to that of the mango and peach, so I began experimenting with various ingredients to see if I could develop a good plum chutney. A lot of people think that chutneys belong with curries. Actually, chutneys are a flavorful accompaniment to many dishes. Chutneys can be quite spicy (hot), mild or sweet, whereas some chutneys are salty and spicy. Whatever you prefer, try a little chutney with some of the meat dishes you serve, such as chicken, turkey, pork, lamb or game; if you are vegetarian, chutneys are a wonderful compliment to many rice dishes such as nasi goreng, fried rice or noodle dish such as bami goring. Many East Indian and Pakistani people are vegetarians, and serve chutneys with many of their dishes. You can also add a tablespoon or two or your favorite chutney to stews and casserole dishes which otherwise might be a bit bland; be careful, however, that the flavors of the chutney blend with the ingredients of the food you are preparing.
If you like a very spicy chutney, you can add more ginger, freshly chopped chili peppers or chili powder. Tamarind, a sweet-sour fruit pulp and shrimp or prawn paste also add flavors to chutney. Other spices which add flavors are cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, ginger, mustard seeds, cayenne pepper and allspice. You can, of course, add your favorite curry powders to chutneys, but using a little of the freshly ground spices allows the flavors to blend more smoothly. The term "chutney" is an East Indian term which means strongly spiced. It usually consists of fruits, vinegar, spices and sugar. It can be served quite fresh or cooked; it can be kept in the refrigerator for quite a while or it can be frozen. You can, of course, buy chutneys in most supermarkets today, however, a home-made chutney, in my opinion, is beyond compare. When you make your own chutney, you can regulate the sweet or spicy flavors, as well as the consistency. My favorite chutneys are chunky, spicy but sweet with a taste of ginger. You get the best chutneys when you use firm fruits, such as mangos, peaches, apples, apricots, plums, and tomatoes. You can also use dried fruits, later in the year when the fresh fruits are no longer in season.
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