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Sweet-tart Rhubarb Chutney

By Judith Hausman, Urban Farm contributor

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Photo by Judith Hausman

Sweet-tart Rhubarb Chutney makes a delicious dish.

Changed plans turned two beautiful pieces of local, grass-fed meat into leftovers. We ate a few slices, but the barbecued London broil and the butterflied half-leg-of-lamb are now mostly cold in the fridge. No matter; leftovers are a favorite challenge!

I can make curry from the lamb with onions, potatoes, mustard seed, curry leaf and so on (maybe even add a little cream or whole-milk yogurt near the end to smooth out the sauce). The next night, I can give the thin-sliced beef a bathing of tomato sauce, brown sugar and vinegar and nestle it into crusty rolls to serve with coleslaw or potato salad.

However, the easiest replay for either meat would be to wake it up with a quick and seasonal rhubarb chutney. This sweet-tart recipe was originally for fresh pineapple, but with a little extra sugar, the punch of chili and the warmth of spices are just right with tender, now-available rhubarb.

Fresh green chilis give a brighter flavor, but a dried chili will turn the pink rhubarb a glossy dark red. For the desired heat, use as hot a pepper as you like. The sweetness is adjustable, too. Experiment with adding a clove of garlic and a small chopped onion to the sauce, as well.

Gently warm the meat, so as not to overcook it, spoon some chutney alongside the slices and serve them with, say, cauliflower and a rice pilaf or just whole-wheat Indian flatbread (chapatti).

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups


Rhubarb Chutney


  • 1 dried chili of moderate heat (such as guajillo or ancho); or 2 fresh green chilis, chopped (variety depends on desired heat)
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed or dry cumin
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 pound rhubarb, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar, added to taste


If using a dried chili, remove the stem, break it up and soak it in a little water for at least 10 minutes.

In a food processor, blender or clean coffee grinder, coarsely grind the fennel, coriander, mustard and cumin seeds (if using).

Heat the oil in a large pan, and gently sauté the ground seeds for a few minutes until they become fragrant. Add the turmeric, dry cumin (if using instead of seeds) and salt. Add the reconstituted chili or the fresh, chopped ones, and sauté a little longer until the ingredients meld.

Add in the sliced rhubarb and ginger. If the mix looks toodry and risks burning, add a couple of tablespoons of the water in which the dried chili was soaked. Cook covered until the rhubarb has softened. Add the sugar last, and cook uncovered briefly to evaporate extra liquid. Cool somewhat, and serve.

You might also enjoy these Locavore Recipes:

Stewed Rhubarb Pairings

Spiced Tomato Jam

Read more of Locavore Recipes »

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About the Blogger

Judith Hausman

Judith Hausman
As a long-time freelance food writer, Judith Hausman has written about every aspect of food, but local producers and artisanal traditions remain closest to her heart. Eating close to home takes this seasonal eater through a journey of delights and dilemmas, one tiny deck garden, farmers’ market discovery and easy-as-pie recipe at a time. She writes from a still-bucolic but ever-more-suburban town in the New York City 'burbs.

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