My husband Tony does not cook. He says he doesn’t want to cook.
Tony is happy to let me prepare all our meals; he cleans and washes up afterwards. It’s a good arrangement. It keeps us both happy. However, it is not strictly correct to say that Tony doesn’t cook. There is one thing he loves to cook: mango chutney. It’s his obsession, his fetish.
Tony is a master cook when it comes to making mango chutney.
Once a year, in December or January, I have to let Tony into my kitchen. For a couple of weeks, it becomes “Tony’s Kitchen”. I have to stay out of the kitchen, or I get into trouble. I must not interfere, offer advice or get in his way. He knows how to cook mango chutney.
Tony doesn’t just cook one batch, but 6 or 8 batches of mango chutney! He always doubles the recipe each time he prepares it, so we go through the process three or four times. And he is very liberal with the ingredients, especially the garlic, ginger, chillies and spice.
Throughout the year, we collect glass jars in which the prized mango chutney will be bottled and stored. Each year, after it is made, I have to re-organise my pantry to fit in the newly bottled condiment. We usually end up with about 60 bottles of Tony’s mango chutney! Now that’s a lot of chutney.
In case you are wondering, no, we don’t eat it all!
Most of Tony’s mango chutney is given away as a gift to family members and friends who like chutney, especially Tony’s chutney. Actually, he has a little fan club of people who love his mango chutney and look forward to receiving their gift.
By the way: The one thing I am permitted to contribute to the chutney-making process is the label for the jars! That’s my idea. But Tony chooses the wording.
Tony is particular about the kind of mangoes he uses.
The basic ingredient of mango chutney, as the name suggests, is the mango. Not just any mango, but a special kind of mango.
Not the sort of mango you would buy to eat, but the common mango: the stringy, not-so-delicious-to-eat mango. And the mangoes used in chutney-making must be green, just starting to ripen.
Tony collects his own mangoes directly from the trees. He “finds” the precious mangoes – wherever he can. He doesn’t buy them. Tony “discovers” trees bearing mangoes on the town common, by a sporting ground, in a friend’s or even a stranger’s yard – he asks if he can collect the mangoes and (almost without exception) he is given permission. Almost always, he takes a bottle of the finished product to that person as a “thank you”.
Do you like mango chutney?
If you do, you might like to try Tony’s recipe (below). It is based on one he received from my mother, who also made mango chutney every year at this time. Tony recalls that he watched her making the chutney and it inspired him to have a go. He decided he could do that too. It was in the 1980s that Tony made his first batch of mango chutney. Tony made it once, and I haven’t been able to stop him since!
Mango chutney is a great accompaniment for many cold meats (especially corned beef and pork), curries, cheese and salads; it is also a delicious spread to use on sandwiches, cracker biscuits or with savouries.
12 half-ripe mangoes (common variety)
600 mL vinegar
6 whole cloves
handful of sultanas
1 kg sugar
1 dessertspoon salt
1 tablespoon mixed spice
6 small chillies
2 small bulbs of garlic
2 medium onions
30 g green ginger
- Peel and cut up mangoes.
- Finely chop onion, ginger and garlic.
- Put all other ingredients together and allow to simmer for at least 2 hours until mixture is brown with a thick consistency.
- Stir regularly at first but as mixture thickens, stir more often, continually.