We love that sweet and sour zip that a good mango chutney brings to curry. But with the high cost of a small jar, wouldn’t a homemade alternative make sense? When Adam Jaffe (of Double Chocolate Sorbet fame) served a lively apple chutney, we realized our orchard-picked Cortlands, simmered with pantry and fridge basics, could do the job. Wouldn’t you know that Adam, an economist, would offer this thrifty solution?
We don’t feel so bad forsaking mango chutney, anyway, since we no longer can find our favorite brand. The original Major Grey’s Chutney, invented by Merwanjee Poonjiajee & Sons Pvt. Ltd. and sold under the “Sun Brand” label, has disappeared from the shelves.
As the story goes, a British Army Major stationed in India in the 1800s couldn’t handle the fiery heat typical of Indian condiments. So he went to a company formed by two gentlemen, Merwanjee and Poonjiajee, to create a milder chutney to suit his palate. This version become the most popular chutney in the world and immortalized Major Grey.
While many brands market a Major Grey-style chutney, none boast the tongue-twisty name of the original. My brothers and I loved reciting “Merwanjee Poonjiajee and Sons” from the slender jar as much as we loved spooning the contents beside our mom’s golden chicken curry.
Even without the mango, this easy-to-make chutney has the same flavor profile as Major Grey’s. Adam’s recipe, our inspiration, came to him via a family member who got it from none other than the Moosewood Cookbook, the vegetarian classic by our hero, Mollie Katzen (see Basic Yeasted Flatbread).
We’ve thrown in some golden raisins to add chunkiness and deepen the flavors. Experiment with other fruits like peaches or pears, and balance the sweet and spicy to fit your taste. Adam says he has even used mangoes. Of course, if you have an asbestos palate, go heavy on the heat and make the type of chutney that would have turned Major Grey, well, grey.
- 1 ½ pounds cooking apples
- ½ cup golden raisins
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
- ½ cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup white vinegar
- Indian chili powder or cayenne to taste
- Peel and coarsely chop the apples
- Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
- Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Cool, spoon into a jar, and refrigerate. Use within a couple of months. For long-term storage, freeze.