Summer Rain and Making Green Mango and Inca Berry Chutney
A friend of mine recently gave me some very special Inca berrires (bottom left) that she brought back from her adventures in Ecuador. Being kind-of ecstatic over this amazing new superfood gift, I did my research to find that the inca berry is a little like a gooseberry, and grows in the high altitude regions of South America. They are a tart little embodiment of antioxidants (more than goji berries, blueberries and green tea) and high in vitamin C, potassium and flavour. So precious to me were these golden little gems that I hid them away for a rainy day. And, just last week, that day came.
Remember how I was telling you earlier that everything was incredibly dry this year? Well, the summer rain finally arrived, possibly with more gusto than many would have liked. After record breaking high temperatures and heat waves we have now been buffeted by high rain fall and extreme winds. There has been more extensive flooding (the second in since 2011) and long power cuts all over the Tweed Rivers, Gold Coast and Brisbane. I hope that everyone caught in the storm is safe and bearing up ok.
Two years ago, around the time when Bhumi was born, we experienced a period of intense wet. El nino came and it rained and rained and rained its deluge down indiscriminately for months on end with damaging and deadly repercussions for many, especially in the Brisbane area. I remember everyone tiring of the damage, the constant wet, the mould, the heavy cloud cover, the strange flus and the rarity of any good outdoors weather. One afternoon, my mum and I sat on her deck cooing over our beautiful new baby and looking out over the cloudy valley. She said to me “You know, when this rain finally stops we’ll look back on this time and say…’do you remember when the rain didn’t stop for two years.‘” The rain did stop, and we experienced a period of intense dry. With no significant rainfall for the entire summer and record breaking heat waves bush fires began sparking up all over Australia, ravaging homes and kilometres of bushland. Just last week, the rain finally came and fell so heavily that some people who had just recovered their lives and homes after the previous flooding were heartbreakingly hit all over again.
On our land we have been very lucky to avoid any damage or power shortage thanks to our high, steep position and stand alone solar system. However, with the very real impact of extreme weather conditions on our doorstep we have been re-assessing how we can be more resourceful and self sufficient.
As I mentioned before, all the mango trees are heavily laden with big green fruits that are slowly ripening as I write. In the recent storm torrents of water, tree limbs and green mangos appeared to fall from the sky.
Stefan becomes like a caged wild animal if he’s kept inside in the rain. So while Bhumi and I made pillow forts and stoked the fire (not so much for warmth, but to keep the house dry and mould-free) Stefan stayed outside to clear drains, watch water courses and…well…I’m not entirely sure what he does all day in the rain. But he’d always comes back with more green mangoes.
And what to do when it’s raining, the fire is stoked, Bhumi is happy in a pile of pillows and there’s green mangoes all over the kitchen? Make mango chutney of course (with light hints of chilly, lemongrass and a scattering of Inca Berry).
I also added plenty of green chilli and hints of lemongrass to the recipe which (pardon me for blowing my own trumpet) turned out pretty amazingly yummy. I always worry a little when making a big batch of chutney or preserve because if you add just a little too much of any dominant flavour then your stuck with jar loads and jar loads to eat your way through. Luckily, the proportions in this recipe balanced out beautifully (trumpet blowing again, sorry).
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large knob ginger, finely chopped
- 1 stick lemongrass, finely chopped
- 1 green chilli, chopped
- 1 Tbsp salt (organic and pure)
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seed
- 1 tsp black mustard seed
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- 1 tsp cumin seed
- 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
- 2 tsp ground turmeric (use fresh if you can)
- 2 tsp ground sweet paprika
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 4 cups of green mango, chopped
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1/2 cup rapadura sugar (as an alternative to the water and sugar use 2 cups fresh sugar cane juice and boil it down)
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 handful of inca berries, chopped
- 2 cardamon pods
- A pinch of cinnamon bark
- 2 bay leaves
As the rain curtained down outside and the strong winds howled through the trees our house was filled with the sweet smell of the mangoes, combined with the warming smell of the wood-fire and spices. Just to savour the experience I let the chutney slow-cook on top of the fire for a couple of hours. It was dark by the time we filled the jars.
In the morning, as is the promise, the sun came out and everything sparkled.
Bhumi and I cut cloth and tags to decorate the jars with, creating gifts for our neighboors. For breakfast we ate our homemade chutneys on homemade japatis with goats cheese, avocado, mint, perennial coriander and a sprinkle of black cumin. Then, like animals waking from hibernation, we walked outside to marvel at all the new life and growth bought by the rain.