Monday, June 29, 2009

Swazi Beet Chutney

I walked into the kitchen at the guest house tonight at about 8:30 to a flurry of activity, rather unusual for this hour of night when there are only three guests staying here tonight, only one of whom actually ate dinner at the guest house. As I watched, Antonio scooped up huge spoonfuls of something dark purple and ladled them into the large jars that Jose was holding up. Jose then carefully screwed on the lid, dipped the jar in a big pot of hot water to clean it off, wiped it dry, and then placed it upside down on the counter. At first I couldn't see what they were making and mistook it for jam, and my heart swelled for a moment until I realized that it was actually a giant vat of beet chutney. Still, though, I ran to get a pen and paper and copied down the recipe. I have grown rather fond of beets here. A traditional Swazi meal consists of rice or corn porridge (which has the consistency of stiff mashed potatoes), some sort of boiled chicken or beef stew with onions and carrots, potato salad, a squash of some kind, and a serving of beet chutney, which adds a nice sweetness to the ensemble. I didn't realize that I liked beets until I got here. Not that I disliked them, but I guess I've never been presented with so many opportunities to eat them until now. So here is the recipe that Antonio and Jose were using for their chutney, just in case anyone reading this is a fan of beets and would like to tap into the Swazi inside of them.

Swazi Beet Chutney

2 cups beetroot, grated
1 onion, grated
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup brown vinegar (white will also work)
2/3 "spoon" curry powder (I'd start with 1 tsp. and add more to taste)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tbsp. corn flour (cornstarch)

Place the grated beetroot and onions into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the brown sugar and vinegar and bring to a boil again. Add the curry powder, salt, and cornstarch and stir well, allowing it to thicken. Spoon into prepared jars and seal.

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