This post is long overdue. Ever since summer knocked on our doors and red plum cherries loaded the trees this post was supposed to come. Like every year, sometime in May we took a trip to the cherry farms with some close friends. These farm picnics are always fun. Kids get to be kids, goofing around, chasing each other, climbing trees and for some time us “grown ups” get to do the same.
We picked a lot of cherries, ate them to our heart’s content and still had pounds to bring back home. When I was paying for 10 pounds of cherries that day I knew what I was going to do and had also planned to blog about it. But then life, health and general “stuff” took a toll on me and this recipe never ended up on this blog. Thank god I had cooked up those cherries before all craziness happened. Now that my health is in my favor and I felt like blogging again I thought I’d start with this recipe.
So I used up the cherries to make Cherry Ginger Chutney. Sweet and tangy cherries married really well with the light spiciness of ginger. I used a couple more spices to spruce it up. Mummy always adds fennel seeds to her chutney. She says its great for the digestion and I just generally love the way flavors dance with the touch of fennel seeds.
In traditional Indian cooking jaggery is used a lot for the sweetness. Gur, or jaggery is the raw unrefined form of cane sugar or sometimes date sugar. Its formed from cane or date juice with extracting molasses from it. Its golden or dark brown in color which brings an earthiness to the dish and is definitely a healthier and better option to white cane sugar. They usually come in blocks which can be easily broken down to powder or you can even find jaggery powder in the market. Its used a lot in Indian desserts and also in cooked chutneys like this one.
2 lb pitted cherries
1/4 lb jaggery – I buy dark jaggery powder from Indian store. Powder dissolves easily than blocks. You can also use raw cane sugar or white granulated one if you want. You can add upto 1/2 lbs of sugar if you like your chutney sweet.
1/3 cup grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon nigella or onion seeds
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Heat oil in a thick bottom pan or pot. Oil should be smoking hot. Add bay leaves followed by fennel seeds, cumin and nigella. Cook the spices until they are brown. Should take about 10 seconds.
Add cherry, jaggery and ginger. Mix everything well together.
For the first 15-20 minutes cook on medium high heat. Stir every 3-4 minutes to keep it from sticking to the bottom. Once you get a feeling that cherry is now beginning to soften, turn the heat to low, cover with a lid and let it simmer. Stir occasionally every 20-25 minutes.
Let the chutney simmer until the cherries are softened and cooked well to the extent that it looses its shape. To test if your chutney is done, take some in the back of your spoon and let it stay out in the air for about 10-15 seconds then run a finger through it. If it wrinkles then its done.The whole process should take 1- 1 1/2 hours.
Turn the heat off and let it cool completely before storing in clean, dry and air tight containers. The chutney stays good in the refrigerator upto 2-3 weeks.