Sunday, 3 August 2008

Pacri Nenas - Spiced Pineapple Chutney

Moving from Two to Four Seasons
Growing up in Singapore, we like to pretend that we have seasons – simply categorised as “rainy/wet” or “hot and humid” seasons. This is not surprising since Singapore is just a tiny, tropical island located near the equator. Now that I live in Sydney, Australia, I have been reflecting on how the four seasons has changed the course of my culinary adventures. When I started this blog, one of my intentions was to document this metamorphosis, but it did not quite work out that way....

Seasonal Cooking
Since moving to a Sydney, I also noticed that the seasons or weather does influence what we cook. While everyone in the northern hemisphere are frolicking on the beach and eating sorbet, we are bundled up in several layers and often find ourselves turning to nourishing foods like soups, casseroles, stews, roasts, risottos and curries.

Curry in Winter
How very strange that I now associate curry with cooler weather - I used to eat it regularly in Singapore and it is almost always hot and humid there. I recall that it was the norm to get all sweaty after tucking into a good bowl of curry – it was worth it!

How Hot can You Handle?
Another interesting observation is that Indian restaurants in Sydney and possibly all other countries outside of Southeast Asia label the curries “mild”, “medium”, “hot”. This creates problems between me and Quikong when we eat out because even though he thinks he was Indian in a previous life (he LOVES Indian food), we get into arguments over which curry I am “allowed” to order. He does not like his food (chilli) hot. If you are a regular reader, you already know that I am the opposite - when it comes to certain Southeast Asian dishes, the hotter the better! I usually give in, and try to get my chilli fix another day.

An Accompaniment for Curry
Today, I am not posting a recipe for curry because I am not expert in that department. While my curry skills are getting better and better, I find it impossible to replicate Mom’s curries. What I would like to share is a popular accompaniment for curry or spiced-based dishes such as nasi beryani/biryani. Mom’s combo of lentil dhal and nasi beryani meal is not complete without pacri nenas (pineapple chutney). The combination of sweet, sour and a touch of spice really whets the appetite.

While I was frying the spices, the wonderful aroma that resulted reminded me of Mom’s kitchen and instantly comforts me. In my version, I added some chopped dates and it was a winner with both Quikong (I served it with beef curry) and my neighbours (it makes a great gift!).

Pacri Nenas
(Spiced Pineapple Chutney)
Loosely adapted from Nirmala Magazine

1 fresh ripe pineapple, peeled (about 600g)
1-2 tbsp neutral vegetable oil
1 red (Spanish) onion (or 6 shallots), sliced thinly
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
2 x 4cm cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
3 whole cloves
2 whole cardamoms
15 fennel seeds
¼ tbsp cumin powder
3cm fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced
½ cup water
1 tsp each of salt and sugar
(optional: 100-150g pitted dates, chopped in half)

- Cut pineapple into 8 sections lengthwise. Cut the core off & discard. Slice the pineapple flesh into 1cm thick pieces. Reserve the juices from the chopping board.
- Heat oil in a non-stick pan/wok. Fry the onion and garlic over medium heat till wilted (be careful not to burn/brown the garlic or onion). Add spices, ginger and chillies and cook till fragrant. Add pineapple pieces and till slightly wilted. Add reserved pineapple juice, water, salt and sugar. Cook till pineapple is wilted. Add chopped dates and stir carefully. Let it cool. Adjust seasoning if necessary (e.g. more salt or sugar or dash of lemon juice). Store in the fridge for a week or two.


Margaret said...

I love pineapple and your recipe is very interesting. I have never come across pineapple chutney before.
This looks like a very good accompaniment to curry.

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

Pineapple chutney sounds wonderful! I have a pineapple here waiting to be eaten. . .

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Another great use for star anise! I'm so glad you're enjoying living in a place with four seasons. Growing up in New England, in the northeast US, I can't imagine it any other way.

Lucy said...

Utterly delicious, Nora!

It is funny to read about cooks in the Northern Hemisphere eating sorbet, as you say!

I love recipes like this that connect us to our family kitchens. Wll try with the dates - I love them!

Anh said...

It sounds so yummy, Nora! I am a big pineapple fan :D. Will give ur recipe a try once I settled down.

Eva said...

That sounds very interesting! Combining fruits and savoury things is still very new to me (although it's done in Northern Germany). So many things I've yet to try!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I've also never seen a pineapple chutney before but that sure sounds good! As for the seasons, I miss them...Florida has boring seasons. There's moderate and dry or hot and humid.

winedeb said...

Hey Nora! Thank you so much for stopping by to say Hi! Things are good in Key West as I have joined a fitness studio and attempting to get this ol' bod in somewhat of a decent shape! I am still painting and doing my gardening but not much cooking! So I must say my blog has been lacking lately. I tune in to see what you and a few other fellow bloggers are doing nowadays to keep up. Your site is always on the top of my list! Glad to see your are still cooking sumptious dishes. I saw that you you made it up to Hunter Valley again you lucky person! I am still enjoying all of my Australian wines every single night. Hope all is well with you! My best to you and will keep in touch!

Nora B. said...

Thanks, Margaret. I should actually make it more often instead of buying chutney.


Hi TS & JS - Thanks for dropping by!


Lydia, I enjoy the four seasons, but I do complain a lot about the cold ;-)


Thanks Lucy. I really enjoyed it with the dates. It adds a deeper flavour. I have been attempting more of Mom-type recipes, although it's my own interpretation of it and not Mom's actual recipes which are too hard to decipher!


Anh, thanks dear! Chutneys are such an easy way to accompany spicy dishes.


Hi Eva, the combo of sweet, sour and salty (& sometimes spicy) is very common in Southeast Asian cooking. trying new things is the way to go. Although I do turn to the comfort of what I know every so often :-))


Hi Mike, glad that I can show you something a little different. It's funny how I forget that something so "normal" to me can be "exotic" for other people.

KJ said...

This look great Nora. I love Indian fruit chutneys. I'm with Quikong though, I'm definintely a mild girl.

Aimée said...

This sounds like a tantalizing combination of flavors, Nora! I imagine really fresh sweet pineapple makes all the difference.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I love using sweet fruit in savory dishes. Now that I'm in Southern California, we have pretty much the same weather all year, so I've gotten more used to eating certain foods year round, like curries or soups.

Valentina said...

I loved the pineapple in this recipe.

Cookie baker Lynn said...

This sounds like a wonderful complement to a spicy dish and a great way to play with the pineapple flavor.

tigerfish said...

Curry in winter? Yes. Definitely.

Big Boys Oven said...

lovely pineapple, chutney looks even essential!

Gloria said...

I love this dish Nora and I love soo pineapple too!!! Always, now we received pineappels so sweet from Ecuador, so nice recipe,xxGloria

Lina said...

this recipe looks wonderful!

Jeena said...

This looks and sounds amazing, I love all of the ingredients.

Nora B. said...

Deb - I just recently joined the gym as well. I haven't done a sit up for more than 6 months (when my previous gym membership expired). Out bods are getting a big shake up :-) Looking forward to your next blog post.


KJ - I knew you would like this since you like Indian food. awww...mild!?!! ;-)


Aimee - Yes, the ripe pineapple really made a difference.


Susan - Funnily enough, when I am back in Singapore, I don't care about the weather and just eat whatever I have been missing!


Valentina is a lovely fruit, isn't it? I don't know why I don't eat it that often in Sydney.


Lynn - Q is getting too spoilt these days because I always have to have such accompaniments when I cook curries.


tigerfish - You must be missing Singapore curries as well.


Sunny - Thank you!!!


Gloria - Lucky you to get such nice pineapples.


Lina - Thanks for dropping by.


Jeena, thanks for your comment and for dropping by. Your recipes look delicious.