Last week I got a gift from my friends at Dorsch Gallery in Miami. They have a huge and prolific mango tree next to the gallery, and summer is their season. These three fat beauties arrived in three distinct stages of ripeness: firm, just shy of ripe, and ready to eat, so I got to admire them on the counter for a few days until they were all just where I wanted them. Then I used them to make a pretty terrific chutney. To celebrate their foreignness (and compensate for it), I used nothing but homegrown or homemade ingredients for the rest of it.
All sorts of goodness is happening in the garden now, so there were many flavors to choose from. Green coriander has been a prominent ingredient in recent food, and there’s a big dish turning brown in the window for the coming year’s use. Along with some of these, I chose other seeds and flowers that have a resiny profile that I thought would harmonize well with the mangoes’ piny sweetness.
There are also the Thai chilis I grew last summer, and which have been hanging on the branch since then for the plucking whenever fierce and fragrant heat is required.
The rest of the mise consisted of onion, garlic, lavender, lemon marigold, powdered spruce tips, and chive and chervil seeds from this spring’s flowers. The two flowers both did interesting aromatic things with the fruit, and the alliums added complexity and a savory foundation for the result. Chervil seeds are a bit like fennel, but more delicate. Spruce is decidedly piney, obviously, and it meshed wonderfully with that aspect of the mangoes.
I cut what needed cutting, dumped it all in a big pot, and added a fair amount of maple syrup and cider vinegar, plus a dribble of pure mustard oil for a little zing.
It cooked on gentle heat until the ripe pieces had broken apart and the firmer ones softened into tender morsels. I adjusted the salt and acidity, then ladled it into three pint jars (one per mango; they were big). It’s good stuff: spicy, sweet, sour, and perfumed with all manner of exotic overtones from the various herbs, flowers, and seeds that went in. Nothing overpowers the essential character of the fruit, but they amplify it and add an addictive savoriness. We had it on burgers last night with pickled turnips and onions and it did not suck. It calls out for curries, smoked chicken, hot dogs with kimchi (a kimchi post is imminent), and big glasses of cold Riesling. With ketchup and/or mustard added, this would be a serious barbecue sauce. It’s not going to last very long, so I didn’t even bother canning it. The acid and sugar will preserve it in the fridge.