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Coconut Chutney Preserve

25 Jul

Tart, sweet, hot and full of delicious coconut flavours it is a wonderful accompaniment to curries, potato dishes and dals or Indian breads and snacks. This chutney is more of a preserve and quite different to the fresh Indian style coconut chatni or pachadi I make. I used to buy something like this in jars when I worked in London, from a South Indian grocer, and this is my best effort so far in replicating it.
Makes 3 small jars

  • 2 cups desiccated coconut
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup mild white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • handful dried curry leaves, crumbled
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seed
  • 4 dried chillis, crumbled
  • 1 tsp salt
  • chilli powder to taste

Pour the boiling water over the dry coconut and set aside until the water is absorbed. In a pan heat the oil then throw in the mustard seed, curry leaves, fenugreek and chillis as soon as they start to pop add the vinegar and sugar. Stir well to dissolve the sugar and boil for 5 minutes or until it thickens slightly then add the coconut, salt, and chilli to taste. Cook for 10 minutes or so then spoon into warm sterilised jars and seal.

Cooks Note if you can use a fresh coconut, miss out the first step and simply grate the flesh and use it along with the milk, the chutney will be much better. Also I think I need to use Indian sugar rather than granulated for a more authentic taste. The chutney I was trying to copy (it is at least 10 yeas since I have even seen a jar of it) so if memory serves I remember it as being more green in colour when may have been colouring but may have been achieved by using fresh curry leaves or fresh green chillis.


Tomato Chutney (sweet chilli)

7 Oct

This sweet and spicy tomato chutney is great served with grilled sausages, kebabs or anything else you want to add a little zing to. It is a classic Anglo-Indian style chutney with the preserving qualities in the sugar and vinegar. It can easily be made milder by reducing the quantity of chillies used.
Makes 1 Kg Prep 30mins Cook 45 min – 1 hour Shelf-Life 1 year+

  • 5 tbsp peanut oil
  • 300g onion, grated
  • 1 bulb garlic, grated
  • 3 dried red bird chillies
  • 8cm piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 kg of tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4-6 fresh red chillies
  • 250ml red wine vinegar
  • 125g natural brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cardamom seeds crushed (about 10 pods)
  • 1/2 fenugreek seeds (optional)

Peel the onions, garlic and ginger and grate or wiz to a rough paste in a food processor. Heat the oil in a large non-corrosive pan and the dried chillis and when they darken add the onion paste, fry until the mixture starts to brown. De-seed the chillis and mince 3/4 of them,  cut the remaining 1/4 into long thin strips. Add the tomatoes and minced chilli and cook until the tomatoes are mushy. Add the sugar and vinegar, stir well and cook until the chutney turns a darker colour then add the cardamom and strips of chilli. Cook until the chutney reaches the desired thickness. Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal immediately. Ready to eat in about 1 month.
Recipe Source The original recipe came from Oded Schwartz but I’ve mucked about with the recipe to make it hotter and more Indian in flavour, so this is where the recipe ended up and it is pretty good.

Tomato Chutney (Sweet Bengal)

23 Sep

Tomatoes make great chutney and I put up plenty of it in the late summer and early autumn months to prepare for a winter without tomatoes. This is the quickest and easiest chutney preserve I make. Sweet Benagli is also my favourite it goes with anything and it is perfect for those who like a sweet chutney that still has a little kick. It can be eaten immediately as there are no strong acids that need to mellow and it will store for several months, but once opened it is best keep in the fridge and used within a couple of weeks.

Prep & Cook 35 minutes  Makes 1 quart / 1 pint  Stores 6 months

  • 750g tomatoes
  • 1 tsp whole Panch Poran
  • 3-4cm cube of fresh ginger
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 whole hot dried chillis
  • 2-4 fresh green hot chillis, sliced
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1tsp salt
  • 100g sugar

Shred the ginger, peel and chop or crush the garlic. Peel and chop the tomatoes. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and add the panch poran (Bengali five spice) let the spices sizzle for a few seconds and when they start to pop add the dried chilli then the garlic and ginger, fry for a minute or two and give the pan a good shake. Add the tomatoes, green chilli, salt and sugar stir well and simmer until the chutney thickens. After about minutes 20 minutes the consistency starts to change and the chutney will get thicker and look glossy. Pour into a hot sterilised jar and seal immediately.

Cook’s Tip I make this chutney all year round, as needed. If I run out and tomatoes are not in season I use my stock of frozen or bottled tomatoes or commercial tinned tomatoes and still got a great result.

Recipe Source This recipe originally came from Madhur Jaffrey’s book, A Taste of India, I have made minor changes to the recipe by adding a little more chilli,  spices, leaving out the dried mango/apricots and using a little less sugar. The resulting chutney is still sweet and only slightly hot.

Fig & Tamarind Chutney

23 Sep

This is a soft smooth chutney inspired by the classic Indian tamarind chutney, perfect to serve with papadums or as a side relish for curries or grilled food. It was an experiment that worked, I like it even better than the classic tamarind chutney.

  • 8 rip figs
  • 3/4 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp tamarind concentrate
  • 1 tart apple peeled and grated
  • pinch salt
  • pinch of chilli powder to taste
  • 100-200ml water
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, roasted then ground
  • 3 tbsp sugar

Wash and roughly chop the figs, put into a pan with all the other ingredients and gently simmer until you have a soft jam like consistency. Add more water if it is too thick and check the taste add more chilli to taste and adjust salt level if necessary. Using an electric liquidiser, I have a little hand held one that is very useful for this kind of job, whizz until smooth or use a fork or something to hand and beat it to a smoothish paste. Use immediately or bottle into sterilised jars. I have no idea how long it will keep and I doubt I will get the chance to find out. So I’ll have to make another batch and see how long it will actually last.

Preserving Tomatoes

28 Aug

Tomatoes make some of the most valuable preserves and condiments for the pantry; sun dried tomatoes, passata, tomato concentrate, sauces or salsas, and chutneys. Processing tomatoes for preserving can be a messy time consuming affair and the kitchen can look like a set for the chainsaw massacre but for me the rewards are worth it, It is such a luxury to have all this lush tomato stuff in the cupboards because lets face it we won’t be seeing tomatoes again until next July unless I can get some to ripen a little earlier next year. Each year I grow more and more tomatoes so that we will have enough to preserve. We eat so much of these tomato preserves that there is just never seems to enough until next years crop.

The all purpose preserve is the basic sieved tomato sauce called Passata, to take the Italian name for it, just tomatoes boiled with a little salt and then sieved or put through a pasta machine. It is indispensable in the kitchen as a base for all kinds of dishes. For full instructions on making passata see How to Make Passata.


It has more body than sieved tomatoes and very useful pantry preserve. The process is slightly different from passata in that the tomatoes are skinned and de-seeded then chopped.  This is the basic stuff I have left over from seed saving and as a seed saver for Association Kokoplelli I tend to produce a lot of this. It can be used fresh in its basic state, frozen as is or bottled cold and heat processed. I usually cook it to reduce the amount of liquid in the pulp before bottling into 250g jars with a sterilising lid and heat process for 20 minutes.

Many sauces that we regularly make can be heat processed. Tomato sauce differs from passata in that the tomatoes are cooked with other ingredients and it is not sieved so it has more body and is perfect to use straight from the jar on pasta or in other dishes that require a tomato sauce. See my Basic Tomato Sauce recipe.

Drying tomatoes is like alchemy the fruit wither down but their flavour just gets bigger and more intense. It is best to use a fairly dry type of tomato or the drying process will take forever. A good tip is to place the tomatoes on a metal surface as the heat reflects back and speeds the drying process up.


This is the cheapest method of drying tomatoes requiring no real apparatus but it does require sunshine. Slice plum tomatoes length ways, remove the green pithy stem sprinkle with salt and lay cut side up on a slatted tray or basket. Cover the tray with netting or gauze to keep insects out. Position the tray in the sun during dry sunny days and bring indoors when the sun goes down. If the weather is at all damp bring the tray indoors and sit on a sunny window still making sure there is plenty of ventilation. It takes about 3 days but could take a little longer depending on the weather and how dry you want the tomatoes. Dust off the salt and store packed into sterilised air tight glass jars in a cool dark place.

Follow the same method as above but place the cut tomatoes on a large oven tray and place at the bottom of an oven set low. I normally set our oven between 50c and let them ‘dry’ for anything up to 24hrs. The length of drying time will depend on: the type of tomatoes, your oven and how soft you want to have the tomatoes.

I use usually use San Marzano plum tomatoes for this recipe. Follow the oven drying method as above but you want the tomatoes to be slightly soft, in our oven 50-75c for 6-8 hours works. Dust off any excess salt and pack into hot sterilised glass jars. Cover with olive oil to 1 cm above the tomatoes, tap gently to knock out any air and seal immediately. Store in a cool dark place. These make wonderful hors d’oevres or tapas straight from the jar and a real treat in winter.

I tried freezing tomatoes after reading Susan’s post on Farmgirl Fair Preserving the Harvest: How to Freeze tomatoes the really easy way. It sounds too simple to be true but often the most simple things are the best. All you do is wash the tomatoes, chuck them in a bag then put them in the freezer. Done! Great tip- Susan thanks.

This is the most complicated and time consuming of the tomato preserves. Concentrate is basically passata reduced down to become a thick paste with a very concentrated flavour. It takes a lot of tomatoes to make a small jar of paste but if you like tomatoes it is worth it. I could eat this stuff just spread on bread.
To Make roughly chop ripe tomatoes, cutting off any bad bits, and chuck them into a large pan. Season well with sea salt and cook over a low heat for 20-40 minutes giving it a good stir every now and then so that it does not stick. The tomatoes should disintegrate and become pulpy. Cook for longer if not. Let it cool slightly then pass the pulp through a passata machine or a sieve pressing it with the back of a spoon until all that is left in the sieve are skin and seeds. Return the sieved tomatoes to the pan (after first rinsing the pan) and cook over a low heat until it is reduced. It should reduce to a thick dark red paste. You will know when it is thick enough when you can draw a spoon through it and the sauce does not run back into the channel left by the spoon. When the paste is the right consistency spoon it into sterilised jars, add a layer of olive oil to cover the paste and seal immediately. Store in a cool dark place and refrigerate once opened.

For information on growing conserving tomatoes go to 

Tomato & Chilli Salsa (Mexican)

23 Aug

This is the salsa I make with our summer bounty of peppers, chillis, onion and tomatoes. It is a cooked salsa, bottled and heat processed, so it has a long shelf-life right through the winter.

A rich red tomato, chilli and onion relish perfect with home made corn chips or as a base for many Mexican dishes. I wanted to make this salsa for preserving so my starting point was the encyclopedic book on preserving Putting Food By 4th edition from which I took the basic ingredients and method.

Makes about 4 x 300g jars

  • 1 kilo of tomatoes
  • 4 hot onions
  • 10-20 green & red fleshy hot chillis peppers (preferably Jalapeno)
  • 1 large sweet green pepper
  • 1 large sweet red pepper
  • 1 tbsp ground mulatto chilli pepper (optional)
  • 50ml cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1-2 tsp salt

Peel the onions and core and seed the chillis and peppers. Throw them into a food processor and grind to a fine chop. Peel the tomatoes and throw those in give the mix another quick wizz to pulp the tomatoes. Tip the whole lot into a large pan, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 20-40 minutes or until the salsa turners a dark red and has a rich thick consistency. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Heat process for 15 minutes. See How to Make Passata for instructions on how to heat process in a hot water bath.

Cook’s Note Be careful with the chillis, if they are very hot use only a small number but if they are mild use 20 or more. Also the quantity of vinegar, sugar and salt required will vary depending on the variety of tomatoes used. If I’ve used beefsteak tomatoes like cuostralle, which are low in acidity I add the vinegar you may not need to just taste the sauce and adjust to taste.