I always get a little excited when cranberries make an appearance at the grocery store, but then I never really get around to doing much with them. I toss a bag into the freezer and let it sit there until I eventually realize that I have an entire freezer full of cranberries, spotty bananas and the heels of bread that Paul refuses to eat and I refuse to throw in the garbage.
So this time, I resolved not to buy any cranberries until I knew what I was going to do with them first.
I also recently resolved to do a better job of using some of the cookbooks that I have been lugging back and forth across the country for years without ever actually cooking from them.
The internet makes it so easy to browse for culinary inspiration, but I really love flipping through actual cookbooks too and I always have a long list of new ones that I want to get my hands on. I decided I really needed to put the ones I already own to better use first though, which is how I chanced upon the recipe for this cranberry chutney.
It couldn’t be easier to make, you literally put everything in a pot and simmer briefly until the mixture is nice and saucy, thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Cranberries are loaded with pectin and the chutney will thicken up more as it cools, turning into a sweet and spicy, jewel-toned compote.
We ate this along with an assortment of other Indian dishes and I’ve also been enjoying it spooned over plain yogurt. I have a hunch it would pair nicely with a big slab of cornbread too.
It would, of course, make a nice addition to a Thanksgiving meal, especially since it can be easily made far in advance and kept in a jar in the refrigerator. Make some now and you’ll have one less thing to worry about next week.
Adapted from "The Indian Vegetarian" by Neelam Batra.
The original recipe called for black cardamom pods. I used green ones instead because that's what I had around. You probably want to eat around the pods — bite into them and you'll get an intense hit of cardamom.
Batra also calls for nigella seeds, which I didn't have. Nigella seeds have a pretty mild flavor and I don't think the recipe suffers without them. I added some black mustard seeds in their place.
- One 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 5 cardamom pods, pounded lightly so that they break open just a bit (the original recipe called for black cardamom but I used green because that's what I had)
- One 3-inch stick cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
Place everything but the vinegar into a heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about five minutes until the mixture thickens slightly.
Stir in the vinegar and continue to cook for another five to 10 minutes, until the chutney is thick enough it coats the back of a spoon. Discard the cinnamon stick and transfer the chutney to a glass jar or other container. It will thicken more as it cools.
Batra says this chutney will keep, tightly covered and refrigerated, for over a year.