The hospital of St Francis, Katete, in Zambia’s Eastern Province, is well supplied with mango trees. This is typical of hundreds of other hospitals throughout tropical Africa, Asia and Latin America. What may not be so typical is the waste of mangoes at the beginning of the season. Small boys knock down unripe mangoes by throwing stones or sticks. A few are edible but most are bitten once and them thrown on the ground. A good solution for this waste (and a way of making money) is to use them for making chutney.

Chutney is a semi-sweet Indian preserve that is usually eaten with the main course to provide more interest and flavour. In cookery books you can find all sorts of complicated recipes for different chutneys using a wide range of fruits and spices. Our recipe is very straightforward. Where there is an Asian community they will readily buy chutney if it contains the spices they like.

Green Mango Chutney can be made very simply. Put 3 cups of vinegar and 3 cups of sugar into a pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Peel the green mangoes and cut the flesh into small cubes or slices until you have about 10 cups. Add these to the pan with 1 cup of chopped onion if available. Boil for 20–30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the mangoes are soft add salt, pepper, chopped mint and 2 teaspoons each of ground ginger, cinnamon or any other spices that you like. More sugar can be added if it is still rather runny. Otherwise, allow to cool a little before bottling in clean jars and selling or eating. (Wrap each jar with a damp cloth to prevent cracking when filling with warm chutney).

The same recipe can be followed with almost any unripe fruit. Green tomatoes make excellent chutney.

Ronald Watts