Paonia is an area located on Colorado’s sunny western slopes that’s famous for it’s orchards and vineyards and I recently spent one scorching hot day there.
Everywhere you looked, there were apricot trees buckling under the weight of their golden fruit. Many weren’t quite ripe enough but while wandering through a sunny pasture, we came across a lone tree, completely exposed to the sun’s rays and loaded with apricots so ripe, that they dropped into your hand at the slightest touch.
These weren’t the large, fat apricots you see at the supermarket; they were small, warm from the sun and absolutely bursting with sweet juice. Possibly the best apricots I’ve ever tasted.
Back home and after greedily devouring several handfuls, I decided to make a chutney. Loosely adapted from a recipe in Mridula Baljekar’s Balti Cookbook, this isn’t the usual type of chutney that can be stored indefinitely as it doesn’t contain vinegar and it only takes a few minutes to cook. However, it does keep for several weeks stored in the fridge.
This relish is absolutely wonderful served with a sharp cheddar, grilled lamb, pork or any Indian dish.
Black onion seeds (kalonji) are available from Indian supermarkets or online from A1 SpiceWorld.
FRESH APRICOT CHUTNEY with INDIAN SPICES
(Makes 2 smallish jars)
1 tablespoon of sunflower or corn oil
1/2 teaspoon of black onion seeds
1/2 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds
1.25 lbs (575g) of pitted apricots, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of chili powder (decrease or increase to taste)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
1 oz (25g) of golden raisins
Preheat a deep saute pan or wok then add the oil. When the oil is hot (but not smoking) add the onion seeds and cumin seeds – let them pop and sizzle for 30 seconds, then add the fruit, ginger, garlic, cumin and chili powder – stir fry for about 3 minutes.
Add the salt and sugar, stir fry for another 30 seconds then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan with a lid or piece of foil and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
Remove the lid, add the raisins and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Take it off the heat, cool completely then transfer to clean glass jars and store in the fridge.