Spicy Rhododendron Chutney

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After learning of an edible flower indigenous to the Himachal region of India that blooms only from January to March, I couldn’t resist taking a bag-load back to my Palampur hostel, and trying my luck at being shown a local spicy chutney recipe made from this flower. This suggestion was welcomed with great enthusiasm, all the team were very excited that their dinner would have the special chutney alongside it, and were keen to show me the ropes!

This is not something that can be bought in shops anywhere, not even hear. It is made in Himachal homes and no where else, so I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity, not only to try it, but also to make it! Here’s how it’s done…

Ingredients

  • A good bunch of Rhododendron flowers
  • 4 cloves of raw garlic, peeled
  • 4 raw green chilllis
  • A pinch and a bit of fresh corriander
  • A teaspoon of chilli powder
  • Half a teaspoon of salt
  • One  lemon
  • A tablespoon of water

Go eat flowers.

1. Remove the petals from the flowers and place them to one side

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2. Place the coriander and chillis into a blender and blitz into a paste

3.. Add the garlic and chilli powder. Blitz.

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4.. Add the flowers, salt and water. Blitz.

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5.. Finally the juice of one lemon. Blitz.

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Mmmmm

 This was really delicious. I’ve never tasted anything even remotely like it, which is exciting as I can’t remember the last time a flavour felt this new to me, but also gutting as it was so tasty but replicating it will never be possible! I’ve thought and thought, and the closest thing I can put the flavour of these petals to is a combination of grapefruit and plumb, but richer and not as sharp. Combine that with a chilli kick and a garlicky cuddle, and you have a taste sensation! IF you are ever in the Himacha region of India over January/March, you must force the opportunity to try this spicy chutney! It’s zinglicious!

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With due thanks to Sunil in Palampur, for showing me how it’s done and making my taste buds so very very happy!

The Cookie Decoration Station

Friday/Saturday just gone, I shared an early Christmas with Diana before she jetted off back to Spain on Sunday to celebrate Christmas and The Three Kings with her family. We indulged in Asti, Festive Sausage Rolls and exchanged presents by the tree.

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Among a number of kind and thoughtful gifts, I received a new set of Christmas themed cookie cutters! As you can imagine, as soon as I returned home, I couldn’t resist getting another few batches on! So, I did my traditional vanilla for some candy cane shapes, then swapped the vanilla for 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and a teaspoon of nutmeg for bells and stars! Soon the whole house smelt of Christmas as, from what I’ve been taught, so it should; my Grandma tells me “nutmeg just IS Christmas”, while my mother tells me with identical enthusiasm and intonation “cinnamon just IS Christmas”! To my amusement, these conversations took place on completely separate occasions, and so now cinnamon and nutmeg, to me, just are Christmas!

These batches were ready just a few hours before my sister was due to arrive at the family home for the holidays. And what better way to welcome her home for Christmas than the Cookie Decoration Station!

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We let our festive artistic sides EXPLODE through the delights of buttercream icing, edible glitter and decorative candies! And you know? I think we did a pretty good job!

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They’re joyful and triumphant!