A Happy New Year. As a self-confessed contrarian, I've suddenly decided that I rather like January. As much as I adore Christmas, it does go on a bit, doesn't it? An old friend of mine used to display a banner in his drawing room with "Christmas Must Go!" emblazoned across it. I'm beginning to understand what he felt like. Over the years I've also slowly come to the conclusion that what I really enjoy at Christmas is not the ubiquitous Turkey (dry this year, one of those things), but, instead, a succulent self-cooked, honey and mustard glazed ham (recipe from Sarah Raven), served up with home-made potted mushrooms, and chutney.
This year my mother gave me a pot of her very own "Spiced Apple Chutney", and I have to say, hand on heart, this is probably the best chutney I have tasted in a very long while. Perhaps ever. She discovered the recipe in a book on Indian food, but was a bit vague about what exactly the title was- so my apologies to the author for not being able to tell you the exact source. The chutney's almost a vegetarian curry in its own right; I think that might be part of its very considerable appeal. It's also fairly easy on the vinegar, which helps.
Peel, core and slice up 900kg of cooking apples. Put them into a bowl and sprinkle them with sea salt flakes. Set aside. Grate half a head of garlic and half a knob of fresh ginger. Slice up the remaining halves thinly.
Heat up a large pan and add a dash of oil. Fry the ginger and the garlic until slightly golden. Add 2 tablespoons of mustard seed, one teaspoon of fenugreek seed, 15 peppercorns, two teaspoons of powdered cumin, one teaspoon of chilli powder, one teaspoon of tumeric, and 3-4 chopped green chillis (removing the seeds with your knife. Fry gently for a few minutes.
Add the sliced apples, 150ml of cider vinegar, and 110g granulated sugar. Stir and cook slowly for about thirty minutes or so. Cool and decant into sterlised screw-top jars. The chutney needs to mature for a few months before eating.
I really do hope you are tempted to make this. It's a classic chutney and utterly delicious.