A lovely summer is starting to end which means the weather is perfect to be outdoors, the days of stylish jackets and fancy boots are approaching and, sadly, the over abundance of fresh seasonal berries and fruits like Figs are about to end. I always hate this last part. I love how the farmer’s markets overflow with all sorts of berries and delicious seasonal bounty, during summer. I love the berries especially, and mango of course (spoken like a true Indian :D) and then I love the melons and litchis and the royal fruit that is fig. Fig has always been a mystery for me and only now have I started demystifying some of the allure. The fruit is uber sweet but highly perishable. It’s abundant during a couple of the summer months and yet you don’t see it in every supermarket. It’s delicious and yet surprisingly less experimented with as compared to quite a few other fruits. Even a quick search online would yield a common but limited array of recipes. Which was my biggest struggle too.
The Publix close to my place had this sale going on the last bunch of figs of the season and I could not resist buying much more than I could ever manage to eat (remember, I said they are highly perishable). So once I realized my hurdle, and considering the fact that I absolutely hate wasting things, I decided to preserve the bounty for later use . I am not a big jam/jelly fan and neither do I care a lot drying the figs. In fact, growing up, the only figs I had tasted were the dried ones (or as used in traditional Indian sweets like Anjeer Barfi). So, imagine my sheer pleasure and shock when I tasted my first fresh ripe fig. To say I was blown away would be a understatement. coming back to the problem in hand, I decided to go for a chutney that would work as a crostini topping, as a relish for Indian breads like Naan/Paratha, add a flavor kick to a spicy wrap and work wonders with roasted or grilled chicken/pork/turkey dishes. Emeril Lagasse has this nice chutney recipe on Food Network that was the closest to what I had in mind. However, I wanted to add a spicy twist to it and make it less vinegar-y compared to Emeril’s and so came up with this version of mine (inspired by his idea). And boy, what a result !!! I can safely say that this is one of the most exciting chutney that I have ever had. The balsamic vinegar and spices balance the super sweetness of the figs while the brown sugar gives it a richer taste. The chutney is sweet and spicy and tangy with onions, cumin and figs giving it great texture. I shared it with a couple of my friends and they swore it was better than any store brought chutney they have had. Now I have my figs and can eat it through out the year too 🙂 I am sharing this recipe with you in the hope that you too will try out this dish and thank the guy who planted the first fig tree !!!
3/4 cup red vinegar (can substitute with white)
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds (preferably yellow, else use black)
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 ground allspice (or use a mix of nutmeg and cinnamon)
1″ cinnamon stick (or 1 tsp cinnamon powder)
Zest of half a lemon
2″ cube ginger, chopped
1 large red onion, julliened
2 green chillies (or jalapenos), chopped
2.5 lbs figs quartered (I used a mix of Calimyrna and Mission but go with your preference)
1. Mix everything except the figs in a heavy bottomed large saucepan and heat over medium heat (stirring in between) till the liquid reduces by 1/3rd.
2. Add the fig and cook over low-medium heat till the water from the figs evaporate, the liquid reduces into a thick sauce like consistency and the figs are completely cooked. Remove from heat, let cool completely and then can/store in a glass container.