Spicy eggplant & capsicum chutney

Growing your own food is sometimes the easy part, what to do with the glut is quite another matter. In this case it’s eggplants.

This is not going to turn into a cooking blog as other folk do a much better job of it.  It’s more about my attempt to find ways of utilising the vegetables that land in my lap as manna from heaven (or in this case, from the community garden where I have my allotment).

Today’s recipe is Spicy eggplant & capsicum chutney. Here is the link.

It’s a new recipe so I’ll try it out by just doing half quantity, see if I like it. Everything lined up on the kitchen table and we’re ready to go. Incidentally, it’s not that the eggplant is small – it’s more a case of the capsicum being huge. I only need half that amount – I’ll be eating it for the rest of the week!

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Whichever way you point the camera at it – diced eggplant doesn’t have a ‘good side’, so I’ll chain myself to the stove now and the next pic will be the finished result. Hopefully.

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I’m back again.

WOW. Just had a taste of the finished result. What can I say except that it will clear out your sinuses! The heat will depend of course on the heat of the chilli you are using and how ‘hot’ you like your food. In this case I used one level teaspoon of chilli powder as I didn’t have a fresh one.

It will be interesting to see how the taste matures as the recipe suggests you leave the chutney for a month before using it. Should be perfect for Christmas to go with cold meats and cheese or as the recipe suggests, with Indian curries.

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This is the amount I made using half of the recipe – four x 250 ml jars. I’m very happy with that result, especially considering that the only thing I had to buy was the red capsicum and a few fresh dates. The rest of the ingredients were out of my pantry staples.

And that’s more of my eggplant stash used up.

Happy gardening.

Eggplants can be a bit scary!

Why? Because they sit there on the kitchen table, looking at me, and I don’t know what to do with them.

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We have an abundance of eggplants over at the farm at the moment and they need to be used.

This week there were some that had missed the eagle eyes of the volunteer gardeners who were harvesting them that morning and were still on the plant, large and heavy, and in need of picking or go to waste. So I picked. And then I took them home.

That is when I made the earth shattering decision to ‘face the fear’ and learn all there is to know about cooking with eggplants/aubergines.

Thank goodness for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage fame. I will start with him. The veggie is well covered in his “Veg Everyday” cook book.  I will work my way through each and every recipe.

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Starting today with the classic Sicilian vegetable stew Caponata.  Eggplant is the star of the show and is well supported by a chorus of olive oil, tomato, garlic, celery, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, sultanas, capers, green olives, and CHOCOLATE!

Ta da!

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It might not look as pretty as the photograph in the book – here is a link to the recipe – but it tastes delicious and I will do as Hughie says and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of days (with the occasional little taste!) and let the flavour develop to it’s full potential.

This is a good opportunity to take the finished dish back to the farm for a taste test with the other gardeners. They’ll all be grabbing the eggplants then!

I have tomorrow’s recipe all sorted. Watch this space.

Happy gardening

Jerry Coleby-Williams

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