Dates are native to hot, dry desert regions of the world, particularly the Middle East and North Africa. In the United States, date palms grow abundantly in the area around Palm Springs, California. Prized for their high sugar content, the semidry varieties of dates grown in California are naturally dried and used most often for cooking and eating. Medjool dates are deep red with thick flesh, little fiber, and a rich flavor. The concentration of the fruit provides just the right sweetness to balance the vinegar and curry in this chutney.
Chutneys add a depth of flavor when mixed with an assortment of grains or vegetables and make an ideal accompaniment when served over a rich-tasting fish or poultry.
- Yields: Approximately 2 cups
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh hot red chile, finely chopped, or crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 pints fresh Medjool dates, coarsely chopped (substitute 2 cups dry date:date:date:date:dates)
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1 ounce brown sugar
- 6 ounces red wine vinegar
- 2 ounces tawny port wine
- Place a medium-sized stainless steel saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil and sauté onions until soft but not colored. Add garlic, ginger, and chile, and continue cooking 2 minutes. Add dates, curry powder, raisins, sugar, vinegar, and port wine, and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, approximately 20 minutes or until liquid is reduced to a syrup.
- Serve at room temperature or slightly warm to release the full flavors of the fruit. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. The chutney can also be canned and kept, unopened, for several months.