Spicy chutney makes a good gift for the holidays

For many years a certain commercially prepared mango chutney has dominated the shelves of supermarkets, and been gratefully purchased by those who like Indian cooking and know how delicious a chutney is with Indian curries.

This year when the price of this chutney went over the $2 mark a friend and I decided to make our own. Since mangoes are terrifically expensive in most parts of the United States, we decided to experiment with other fruits. The chief necessity was that the fruits be underripe so they would not cook to pieces in the process, and that they had a somewhat tart flavor.

I found two appealing recipes in one of my Indian cookbooks; one for mango and the other for mixed fruit chutney. Instead of mangoes, I used nectarines and one or two hard peaches. My friend used the mixed fruits recommended in the second recipe, namely apples, pears, and plums.

We eargerly compared our finished products with the imported item. To our happy surprise, ours compared very well with brand 'X.' In fact, a few who sampled the chutneys preferred ours. We did too, and, of course, it was far less expensive.

Here is the recipe as we made it. Nectarines were the most successful, but other fruits such as unripe apricots would be satisfactory also. I tried pears alone but they were too bland. The apple, pear, and plum chutney my friend made was delicious, but the high water content produced much excess liquid and took longer to cook down.

No fruit is quite the same as mango, but these fruits make an excellent substitute. If real mangoes are available, use them by all means.

For the 6 cups of unripe fruit you may use any of the following or your own choice of combinations: 3 cooking apples and 3 pears of average size or 2 apples , 2 pears and 5 or 6 plums or 4 nectarines and 2 peaches. Mixed Fruit Chutney 6 cups unripe fruit, diced or sliced 1 1/2 cups vinegar 1 1/2 cups sugar, brown or white 3 cloves garlic minced finely and mashed 2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, peeled and grated 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (or 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper) 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup raisins

Place vinegar, sugar, and fruit in a 4-quart pan or kettle. Bring to boiling , stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue boiling slowly 5 minutes.

Mix garlic, ginger, and chili powder together with a little vinegar. Add to fruit mixture with raisins and salt. Cook slowly about 40 minutes, stirring frequenty with a wooden spoon, crushing the fruit slightly. Remove from heat, cool and bottle. Store in a cool place. Makes 1 quart.

This chutney is very tasty with cold meats, and also as a snack or sandwich spread. The red pepper or cayenne may be omitted if a slightly hot taste is objectionable. Some "like it hot." We do.

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