Chutney (Recipe: curried shrimp and pasta salad)
If I say "hot and spicy chutney" and your hips -- not your lips -- start to twitch, you've come to the right place.
After all, would the Pantry be perfect without music that raises your heartbeat and turns your cooking time into a dance party?
I think not.
Chutney, the lively music indigenous to the southern Caribbean (particularly Trinidad and Tobago, with its large population of Indian heritage), tosses together soca, classical Indian, reggae and calypso rhythms with lyrics sung in English and Hindi -- an exciting blend that makes it almost impossible to stand still when you hear it.
Chutney, a lively relish served with almost every Indian meal, tosses together many ingredients to create an exciting condiment that makes it almost impossible to sit still without clapping your hands in delight.
Much like salsa (which is also both a condiment and dance music), chutney brings together fruits, vegetables, heat from peppers, sugar, spice and, often, astringency. Chutney can be fresh, in which case it often does not contain vinegar or lime, or it can be cooked and preserved, in a style more popular with American and European palates. The base of chutney might be fruit (apples, tomato, tamarind, bananas, peaches), or coconut, or onions, or herbs (coriander and mint are common), or nuts. From the pear trees in front of my house, we harvest each autumn and make batches of pear-and-ginger chutney for Thanksgiving (we make cranberry chutney for the holidays, too). Almost any flavor of chutney would work well in these delicious cheese puffs or breakfast toast.
In the US and Britain, the most popular chutney is still Major Grey, a cooked relish made from mangoes and named for a mythical 18th Century British officer who may, or may not, have loved curries and may, or may not, have created this relish to last through the long journeys between far-flung outposts of the empire.
Curried shrimp and pasta salad
One of the most frequently used books in my library is a little paperback volume published in 1990, Condiments! Chutneys, Relishes & Table Sauces, by Jay Solomon, who owned a restaurant in Ithaca, New York. I love recipes that incorporate chutney into the sauce, though it's great slathered on sandwiches, too. I've adapted this recipe slightly. It's a perfect picnic dish, which makes it perfect for autumn hiking, too. Serves 4-6.
8 oz dry rotini or cavatappi
6 broccoli florets
20-24 medium-size shrimp (31-40 size), deveined and cooked
2 apples, diced (do not peel)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 small red onion, minced
1 cup fresh shredded coconut
1/2 cup chutney (mango, nectarine, pineapple, cranberry, tomato -- whatever flavor you have on hand)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise or plain yogurt
1-1/2 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp Tabasco or other hot sauce
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the pasta, and boil until al dente, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and rinse under cool water.
Blanch the broccoli in boiling water to cover for 3-4 minutes. Drain and cool under cold running water.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the pasta and broccoli with remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Wrap tightly and chill for at least 2 hours before serving, to allow the flavors to combine. Serve at room temperature.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Orzo, dittalini, annelini (Recipe: Curried orzo chicken salad)
Rice vermicelli (Recipe: Bun gao)
Miracle Whip (Recipe: Wild rice salad)
Curry powder (Recipe: Curried squash, apple and pear soup)