- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Fruit condiments were once limited to the realm of meat accompaniment, but in the past couple of decades, they started appearing in the company of a much wider range of savory dishes, including grains, beans and grilled or roasted vegetables.

This is a good development, since we often need a little flavor boost to help us appreciate those foods at the bottom of the food chain. What better boost than to simply open a jar and spoon out something wonderful? The homemade chutney that follows is so easy and straightforward that you will be surprised by how beautifully complex it tastes.

Apricot-lime chutney takes only about 10 minutes to assemble and 30 minutes to cook. Then you cool it and store it in a jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. The flavors continue to deepen as it sits.

Serve this chutney with grilled fish or chicken, all kinds of stir-fried food, stews and take-out Indian food, not to mention grains, beans, and grilled or roasted vegetables.

To make it easy, I use a Microplane zester, which is a long metal strip with tiny grating slits along one side. It gracefully and efficiently pulls just the outermost zest from the lime, lemon or orange, leaving the bitter white pith behind.

Don’t forget to zest the limes before juicing them. It’s much easier that way. You can make apricot-lime chutney with fresh or dried apricots.

Apricot-lime chutney

1 pound fresh apricots (or ½ pound dried)

½ cup fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon grated lime zest

3 tablespoons honey or brown sugar

1-inch knob of fresh ginger root, thinly sliced

Pit apricots, if using fresh, and cut them into small dice. Cut dried apricots into thin strips.

Place apricots, lime juice and zest, honey or brown sugar, and ginger root in a medium-size saucepan, add water (3/4 cup for fresh; 1½ cups for dried apricots) and bring to a boil.

Lower heat to simmer, partially cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. (If dried apricots are excessively dry, add a little extra water during the cooking.)

Allow to cool for about an hour, then transfer to a container with a lid, cover and refrigerate until using. (Use within two weeks.)

Makes about 2 cups.




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