by Jacqueline Smith
This is not a solicited book review. That would be cool. But rather, it's just a girl that loves eating –– expressing her girl-crush on another that loves food maybe even more than her. Ergo, Padma Lakshmi's memoir Love, Loss, and What We Ate.
This book went cover-to-cover overnight. Like having a girlfriend in town, catching up on the last 40+ years in a single evening over wine and lots of sweet and salty snacks. Only, I was on a backpacking trek in The Enchantments around Leavenworth, Washington and in the silent downtime I gobbled up her words like the dried calorie dense meals I rehydrated –– impatiently waiting to devour them after hiking vertical miles into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
If you're good with your kitchen emulating exotic, potent, intense aromas of Indian spices for days following then life is about to get better. Make this chutney.
Padma includes recipes ––much tastier than dehydrated meals–– but just a select few. One I would 100% include in my own book ––have I ever the opportunity to do so–– Egg in The Hole. Hands down the best breakfast meals anyone could ever place in front of me, especially when I'm in need of extra love and affection (with truffle salt and ground black pepper, please). She hooked me with that one. It's nothing fancy, elaborate or exotic. It's a plate you'd find in your own humble childhood.
Another recipe in Chapter 3 caught my eye enough to give it a try and as a result, share a few words myself under a blog dubbed, "Sauces That Make Life Better." You could say it turned out well. If you're good with your kitchen emulating exotic, potent, intense aromas of Indian spices for days following then you're life is about to get better. Make this chutney.
(I added fresh mint from the garden because I couldn't find curry leaves in town, ––PADMA, us Oregonians perceive "curry leaves" as a great white whale!!–– olive oil vs. canola oil, and coconut sugar vs. brown sugar.)
Kumquat and Ginger Chutney
Serves: 8 to 10
2½ pounds fresh kumquats quartered and pitted
2 tbsp. kosher salt
½ cup canola oil
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 dozen fresh medium curry leaves, torn into small pieces
3 tbsp. minced fresh garlic
8 small green Serrano chilies, chopped or sliced in half lengthwise
6 whole fresh Kaffir lime leaves
½ tsp. sambar or Madras curry powder
½ cup water, plus more if needed
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
1. In a large bowl, mix the kumquats with the kosher salt. Let them rest for 2 to 3 hours, or overnight in the fridge, if possible.
2. Heat the oil in a deep pan for a few minutes on medium heat. Add the fennel seeds. When they size and darken slightly, after about 2 to 3 minutes, add the curry leaves, ginger, and chilies, frying and stirring for just a minute or two. Then add the kaffir lime leaves and kumquats. Stir well. After 5 minutes add the curry powder and stir again.
3. After 5 minutes more, stir in the water and sugar.
4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook covered for 10 minutes; stirring intermittently to ensure the chutney does not stick to the bottom of the pan. If this happens, stir in more water, ¼ cup at a time, but the mixture should remain thick and gooey. Cook until the chutney has a chunky jam-like consistency.