This recipe is a variation on a mango chutney recipe I found several years ago in Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick and Easy Indian Cooking. I make and can about 10 cups or so of chutney every year, and Strawberry Chutney has an honored place on my shelf. We love this chutney with Indian meals, of course, but also on hot buttered toast and with just about any roasted meat.
Mustard oil is available at most Indian grocery stores. It’s labeled “not for internal consumption” in the United States due to the intensity of its heat, but I’ve used it in Indian recipes for years with no adverse side effects. If you cannot find mustard oil, you can substitute plain olive oil or you can make a mustard olive oil by infusing crushed, roasted mustard seed into olive oil using the hot method for infusing oils.
I like my Strawberry Chutney hot, hot, hot and sweet, sweet, sweet. Double the number of chilies and plan to add at least 6 tablespoons of sugar or honey if you’re making it for me. For a less spicy chutney, remove the seeds from some or all of the chilies. I’ve suggested adding the sugar or honey at the very end of the process so you can sweeten the chutney to your taste preferences.
- 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
- 2 pounds or so fresh strawberries
- 1/4 cup mustard oil or olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds (preferably black, but yellow will do)
- 1/4 tsp. kalonji seeds
- 2-1/2 inches fresh ginger, julienned
- 1 tsp fresh turmeric (or about 1/2 an inch fresh or frozen, grated)
- 1 tsp sea salt, kosher salt, or another mild, non-iodized salt
- sugar or honey to taste, about 6 tbsp.
- 3 to 4 fresh or frozen hot green chili peppers
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- Soak the fenugreek seeds in 1/2 cup of water overnight or for several hours.
- Wash, stem, and half the strawberries. If they’re particularly large strawberries, quarter them. If they’re particularly small, leave them whole.
- Heat the oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke (or, if you’re not using mustard oil, until it is hot).
- Add the cumin, fennel, mustard seeds, and kalonji seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the julienned ginger.
- Stir and fry the mixture until the ginger begins to change color.
- Add the fenugreek seeds with their soaking liquid, the turmeric, and another cup of water. Stir and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Cover and lower the heat. Let the mixture simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Add the strawberries, salt, green chilies, and cayenne pepper.
- Stir and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let it simmer uncovered until it is thick and the fruit has softened and cooked through, about 30 minutes.
- Add sugar or honey a small amount at a time, tasting and stirring over low to medium heat, until your chutney is as sweet as you desire.
Strawberry Chutney stores well refrigerated for two weeks or more. It freezes well and cans well. In either case, process it as you would a jam or jelly.
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