Thursday 6 June 2013

Rhubarb Chutney (and why I change other people's recipes)


Friends have come to the rescue and very generously provided me with a big bag of rhubarb (and some rhubarb crowns to plant as well)!  I made this chutney recipe a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it, so have been wanting to try it again.  I found the recipe on - I really like recipe websites where people can rate the content.  I have never rated anything myself (I depend on others to do what I can't be bothered with), but I like the idea of relying on a recipe with 1200 ratings at 5 stars.  How can that many people be wrong??

The recipe I am referring to has not quite made it to that level, but still has a respectable 4.5 stars after 50 reviews.  The title (and here's the link) is Bifana - it seems to refer to the whole dish which includes this rhubarb chutney being served with a pork tenderloin.  My focus was just the chutney as I had other plans for it ... this picture isn't that great, but I was in too much of a hurry to eat it (described in detail at bottom of post):

When I make a recipe, I do not generally intend to deviate.  Sometimes there are obvious substitutions required - I never use margarine and will always substitute butter (or maybe lard or shortening depending on the recipe).  Often, as in this case, it is simply a matter of not having the right ingredient on hand, or avoiding an ingredient I don't like.  And when I change one ingredient, I don't always adjust others; I consider the impact on my personal tastes and maybe it isn't necessary.

Needless to say, I had every intention of following this recipe as written, but ended up making more adjustments than I thought.  I'm sure the original recipe is great, but I've never tried it so can't comment one way or the other.  Here is my version (along with some commentary on why the changes were made):


  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 Tbsp minced fresh ginger root (I used 1/4 Tbsp more than original recipe simply because I minced that much and I really like ginger!)
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic (OK, this is a longer explanation - I usually only use powdered garlic if there is a specific need for a dry ingredient to be used such as in a rub; otherwise, why wouldn't someone want to use fresh?  But the fact is, I also didn't have any.  Now the amount of fresh to use was a challenge.  I checked a few websites which all suggested a conversion factor of 1/8 tsp powder to 1 clove fresh.  The recipe called for 1 Tbsp garlic powder which would have meant 24 cloves (3 tsp to 1 Tbsp so 24/8's)!! Even with the driest store-bought garlic, that is still a LOT of garlic flavour - end of long story - I used 2 Tbsp fresh, about 6-7 cloves);
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves (don't like cloves, and there are plenty of other strong spices)
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (recipe called for 1/4 tsp dried red chili pepper)
  • 4 cups diced rhubarb (another topic near and dear to me ... sizes of cuts.  I recently commented in my Ginger Rhubarb Jam Recipe about the relevance of the size of a cut.  The recipe called for a dice; I used a medium dice, so 1/2" square, or in my case, more of a polygon)
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion (it called for 1/2 cup chopped red onion, so I suspect the amount I used was a bit larger due to the small cut; I had pulled out the mini food processor when I was tired of dealing with the garlic, so I used it for the onion as well)
  •  1/3 Thompson raisins (recipe called for golden raisins, but I only had Thompson)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (recipe did not call for any at all) 

The directions:

Add sugar, vinegar and spices into large saucepan.  Bring to simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves.  Add rhubarb, onion and raisins.  Increase heat to medium-high and cook until rhubarb is tender and mixture thickens slightly.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.

My serving suggestion:

A toasted Kettleman's Montreal-style bagel (oh, they look so good coming straight out of the oven, and then they smell so good in the car driving home!!)
Bacon (I found someone I knew at a local farmer's market last weekend who raises their own pigs and picked some up)
Havarti Cheese (no butter required on the bagel; havarti is buttery and creamy all on its own)
Rhubarb Chutney

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