Thursday, May 16, 2013

From The Far East - Loquat Chutney

We've been enjoying an abundant supply of loquats recently. Husband and I didn't even know what this tree in the backyard was until our Asian gardener identified it for us. Loquat, a fruit native to central China, is also known as Chinese plum. If you like peach, apricot, citrus or mango, or all of them, you'll love loquat with hints of all of these fruits. The loquat tree with yellowish ornage fruits makes our yard quite attractive to all sorts of birds. Most fruits get pecked before they ripen fully, but we still manage to keep plenty to ourselves. I love the juicy fruit with sweet-n-tart flavors, and so do all our friends who've tried. it. There were quite a few vendors selling loquat at the farmers market last week.

Loquat, unlike most other fruit trees, starts flowering in late winter and bears fully ripe fruits around late spring. So around this time, we have more fruits than we can manage to eat. I looked up if I could use the excess fruits in cooking. Turns out loquat is great for tarts, chutneys, jellies and jams. Makes total sense given the fleshy, juicy texture. I made a simple chutney with it, similar to the mango chutney made with ripe yet firm mangoes available in India around this time. It would be the perfect accompaniment to any light meal. You can make it with peaches, apricots, or firm ripe mangoes too.

Loquat Chutney

2 Cups firm, ripe loquat - peeled, deseeded and chopped
1 Stick cinnamon
1 Star anise
1/2 Teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 Cup grated jaggery/brown sugar
2-3 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1 Teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 Teaspoon cumin-coriander powder
2 Teaspoons ghee/butter
Salt to taste

Heat ghee/butter in a sauce pan and add cumin seeds, cinnamon and star anise. Let the seeds splutter and whole spices roast until fragrant. You can use a spoonful of fennel powder instead of start anise for that sweet, licorice like aroma.
Add rest of the ingredients and cook the chutney until everything comes together. You can adjust the amount of jaggery and vinegar depending on how sweet or tart the fruits are. Adjust the chili powder per preference.
Once cooled, the chutney is ready to eat. It can be stored in the fridge for upto 2 weeks.

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