March 13, 2010

Long before I made my first batch of mango chutney, it showed up on our family dinner table. My mother, in an attempt to feed two kids on a college professor’s meager salary, not to mention, raise those kids with educated palates, started to make Indian curries.

The first of those curries appeared in 1968, Madison, Wisconsin, a couple of days after Thanksgiving, no doubt a reaction to our moans of “No More Turkey, Mom.”

It was a simple turkey curry made by browning onions and garlic in butter, sprinkling on curry powder and some flour to thicken everything. Once this aromatic mix was browned, the flour cooked, she added chicken broth and cream. When it was simmering, she added cooked turkey and warmed it through. Not an elegant curry, but we loved it.

When I think about our curry nights, it’s a funny piece of “modern table art” that my mother used for those special nights that is most remembered. A round wicker tray in which snuggled eight bright colored doves, each one a bowl. Around the tray were chopped tomato, chopped cucumber stirred up in a little sour cream, chopped scallions, raisins, chopped up hard boiled egg, flaked coconut, peanuts and that heavenly mango chutney.

Curry was like an ice cream sundae for dinner. We would pile all the additions on our budget-stretching curry, never imagining it was a leftover dinner. It was heaven.

That was my first encounter with chutney, and I’ve been finding new ways to use it ever since. Here are more ideas. Maybe you have an idea of your own? Leave a comment, please, and help spread the word.

As a condiment with all poultry. Heavenly with lamb.
Warm brie with chutney poured over the top in a 325 oven for 10-15 minutes.
As a spread on a turkey sandwich. Or leftover lamb sandwich.
Serve with samosas.
Stir it into a chicken salad.
Use it as a barbeque sauce.
Mix it with sour cream or plain yogurt (Greek, preferably) as a dip.
Or do as my friend, Capie, does, and spoon it right out of the jar.
I made up this recipe the other night. (Too many frozen peas led me to tweet a plea for pea recipes. The gals at Big Girls, Small Kitchen (@BGSK) said “Samosa potatoes? Like the filling of a samosa but without dough.” and I was off and running. I turned to wonderful Andrea Nyguyen’s cookbook Asian Dumplings for more advice.
Inside Out Samosas
adapted from Asian Dumplings
Makes 8 or 9 cakes

4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
1/4 c onion, diced the same size as the peas
2 tsp minced ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T butter
1-1/2 tsp coriander seed
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1/4 tsp cayenne
3/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 c frozen peas
1/4 c carrot, diced the same size as the peas
1/4 c flour spread out on a plate
Canola oil
Boil the whole potatoes for 20 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and cool slightly, then slip off the skins.
In the meantime, in that boiling water, drop in the diced carrots and blanch for 2 minutes, then drain.
In a small saute pan, melt the butter and toast the coriander and cumin seed in the butter. Saute the onion, ginger and garlic until just starting to brown on the edges. Remove from the heat.
Mash the potatoes, then add the onions, carrots, peas, and cayenne and mix. I used my hands.
Fill the 1/4 c measure with the mixture, for pretty portioning, and pat into a fat little cake. Form the remaining cakes in the same way.
In a large non-stick pan (really, trust me, you want non-stick), add a slick of canola oil and get it nice and hot.
Dredge each cake lightly in flour. Use a light touch, don’t smush the cake together.
Carefully place the cake into the nice hot pan and get it good and brown on each side.
Serve with mango chutney, naturally.

There is no photo of the cooked cakes. We ate them before I remembered to take a picture. That Good.

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