I hate to throw anything away and last week when I had half an onion and half a cucumber I made that English classic, of cucumber and onion steeped in vinegar. As I’m in Italy I couldn’t use malt vinegar like in the UK so I used a white wine vinegar.
I grew up with this; I remember Sunday teatime having cold beef sandwiches with the cucumber and onion mix adding a sour zingy taste. It’s lovely after a day or so languishing inside the fridge to have on a cheese or ham sandwich, or as an accompaniment to a salad.
Well today I used the last of it up at lunchtime and stood looking at the vinegar, coloured pink from the red onion and rather than throw it away I thought I’d recycle it and make an Indian relish. So as the iPod shuffled and Antony and the Johnsons played Cripple and the Starfish, I started to assemble the ingredients.
Now I’m not good at measurements, as I’ve said before I tend to be a chuck in the ingredients and have faith in the cooking gods. But I’ll try my best to give you an idea of the quantities I used to make this spicy, hot relish.
7 garlic cloves. 1 medium sized onion. 1 medium courgette. 1 aubergine. 6 small dried cayenne chillies (you can use whatever you like according to how hot you want the relish to be). 1 tablespoon of turmeric. 2 tablespoons of a curry powder mix. 1 tablespoon tomato puree. 100 ml white wine vinegar. Olive oil for frying.
First chop the onion, courgette, aubergine and garlic. Add a little oil to a deep pan and fry the onions until they start to soften but not brown. Add a little more oil to the pan and then add the aubergine and courgette and after a further 3 minutes add the garlic. Stir in the chillies and turmeric and stir the mixture giving the vegetables a coating of the yellow powder. Then add the curry powder, distribute evenly in the pan and add the vinegar.
Bring to the boil and cook on a rapid heat for about five minutes, then turn to a rolling simmer and add the tomato puree and stir through. Continue the cooking for a further 15 minutes until it reaches a thicker consistency. The aubergine and onion should be soft but the courgette should still have a little bite to it.
Wash and sterilise 3 x 300g jars by drying in a hot oven, (be careful when taking hot jars from an oven) Make sure the jars have a coated inner lid for the storing of vinegar, plain metal lids will tarnish. and fill them while the relish and jars are still hot, screw on the lids and let them cool down before storing in the fridge. (They should pop and seal as they cool) The relish will keep for around 6 weeks in the fridge, (2 weeks once opened) and is delicious with warm flatbread like chapatti.