Green Tomato-Apple Chutney
Not to stereotype, but one of the great things I’ve noticed about Indian cooks is that whenever you make or try out one of their dishes, instead of combing through the ingredients or instructions looking for cultural missteps, they’re always thrilled that you’re interested in cooking their cuisine*.
A while back I made Tandoori Chicken, which was one of the first – and only – Indian dishes I have ever made. Sure it’s not very inventive, but it was fun learning about the spices and other ingredients on my trip to the Indian market, and folks left a lot of encouraging comments and tips in various venues for me, offering advice and enlightenment.
Instead of saying, “No self-respecting Indian would ever put squirrel cheeks in curry sauce” they might say “My mother never would have put ostrich beaks in her chutney—but it looks fabulous!” or “Leftover marshmallows in a dosa? How creative!” The Indian cooks that I’ve come across have always been enthusiastic that others are exploring their food.
In that spirit, I was in the Indian quartier in Paris for dinner the other night and exploring one of the produce stores, and was thrilled to find what looked like tomatillos. My French friends could not believe how giddy I was while I carried home a big bag of them. But that giddiness ended when I got into the kitchen, split one open, and discovered by asking around online that they are actually some kind of green tomatoes.
A number of Indian cooks left comments for me on how to prepare them and my favorite was the one that said – “Just heat some black mustard seeds in oil until they explode, then add everything else.” I don’t know about you, but anything that involves exploding mustard seeds sounds like something I want to be a part of. I have to admit that I’m not necessarily on board with this whole ‘green tomatoes’ thing, perhaps because I’m a New Englander. And before everyone chimes in telling me how great they are, channel your inner Indian and realize that people have different tastes and respond to textures differently.
In the end, I’m on the fence about green tomato chutney. (Perhaps because I didn’t get to explode my mustard seeds.) Would I go out and buy green tomatoes just to make it? Well, probably not. I do like the little crunch of tomato and mustard seeds, though, and perhaps it just needs to sit and mellow for a bit to tone down the bite, which I think chutney benefits from. I suspect a lot of you may not have any use for green tomato recipes at the start of summer, but when tomatoes are on the wane and you find too many unripe specimens clinging to vines in your gardens, here’s a way to use up all those spares.
Related Links and Recipes
Preservation Principles in Chutney (University of Georgia)
Chai ho! The pleasures and perils of eating chutney in India (Hungry in Hogtown)
Mango Cranberry Chutney (My Pantry Shelf)
Fried Green Tomatoes (Simply Recipes)
Plum Apple Chutney (Tea and Cookies)
Curried Apple Chutney (Local Kitchen)
How to make wonderful spicy tomato chutney (Becks & Posh)
English-Style Spicy Green Tomato and Apple Chutney (Married with Dinner)
Canning and Preserving Recipes (Punk Domestics)
Cream Cheese Dip with Chutney (Saveur)
Blueberry Port Shortbread Chutney Bars (Habeas Brûlée)