Do you have one of those relatives that you don't quite understand? When my uncle first met Mr NQN he said something to him that had us all looking at each other bemusedly. When he learned that Mr NQN is half Finnish, he sat back and nodded his head sagely.
"The Finnish..." he began, "you're known for your tongs," he said knowingly, nodding his head.
Mr NQN looked at me, I shrugged my shoulders and looked at his sons who had their eyebrows raised.
"What kind of tongs?" Mr NQN asked him.
"You know, barbecue tongs" he said, as if Mr NQN would have known that.
Now Finland is known for a few things: design and technology being two that immediately, but tongs...not so much. Still, my uncle carried on undeterred about how Finns were really so good with their tongs. Afterwards at home, we googled tongs and Finland and came up with nothing sensible. The next time, we asked him where he had heard it and alas, he couldn't remember!
Well, we never got to the bottom of the mystery of the Finnish tongs. However, my cousins did buy us a pair of rather nice barbecue tongs for our wedding and engraved them. And my uncle can always be counted on for random observations about different countries from all over the world. As for us, we like to experience each country through the food, rather than odd references.
We adore Indian food in this household and whenever we eat it, there are two things that I always order: mango chutney and raita. The mango chutney has a sweet spiciness while the yogurt provides a cooling effect. Since we seem to have mangoes galore this summer I thought that I would try and make the most of this season's mangoes by making a mango chutney.
I was inspired by Eva's scrumptious sounding version which was lower in sugar than the supermarket brands. Indeed, for the supermarket varieties, sugar and mango are in almost equal proportions with just a tad more sugar than mango which makes it really jam-like. I wanted to do something that was more generous with the mango and spices so I based my recipe on Eva's. And if I do say so myself, this on some flat bread with some yogurt is sheer bliss. Tongs or not.
So tell me Dear Reader, what is one thing that your country is known for?
P.S. Here are the wedding tongs with the tiny engraving! ;)
Made From Scratch: Mango Chutney
2 large mangoes (about 1 kilo worth of flesh) not ripe and still quite firm but not green mangoes
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sultanas
2 red onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1.5 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
5 cloves, ground
1/2 teaspoon salt
Step 1 - Chop up the mangoes into large chunks and place these, along with the rest of the ingredients (vinegar, sugar, sultanas, onions, garlic, ginger, curry powder, cinnamon, cloves and salt into a medium sized saucepan. Simmer for about 35-45 minutes until mangoes are soft. Ladle into sterilised jars and close tightly.
*To sterilise jars, place the jar and lid (make sure the lid is heat and ovenproof) in preheated 180c/350F oven for 10 minutes.