It’s now December and time to decide what to include in my Christmas hampers. I love giving baskets of home made goods as presents and they have always been met with great excitement and appreciation. I usually include sweet treats like cookies and mince pies as well as some more savoury things like a nice chutney. It’s always a good idea to have something to pair with cheeses as well as the ubiquitous turkey and ham sandwiches. My red onion marmalade has become something of a Christmas tradition but I wanted to come up with another savoury condiment for this year. I tried to think of something that would incorporate Christmassy spices like cinnamon and clove and that led me to Ras Al Hanout. Ras who? Well a few months back while browsing in my local Asian food store, this spice blend was recommended by a very helpful shop assistant. I brought it home and used it in a few dishes such tagines, falafels and a lentil and carrot soup. I’m now in love with the stuff. Ras Al Hanout comes from North Africa and means “top of the shop” in reference to the select blend of spices involved. Don’t be alarmed, it’s not any more expensive than a spice blend you might purchase in a supermarket. Also it’s not hot-spicy, more warming than anything so don’t that that fear put you off. This recipe should yield about 3 medium sized jars.
800g chopped fresh tomatoes
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Ras Al Hanout
50mls rice vinegar
50mls balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon runny honey
1. In a large heavy based pan, heat a couple of good gluts of sunflower oil. Add your chopped onion and season with salt and black pepper.
2. When the onion has softened, add the Ras Al Hanout. Mix well through the onions and oil, making sure the spices don’t stick to the pan and burn. If it looks a little dry add a little more oil.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes, vinegars and honey. Stir and cover with a lid. Allow to simmer for about 40 minutes.
4. While your relish is simmering, sterilise your jars by running through them through a dishwasher or by placing in the oven on a low heat (75 degrees Celsius should do it).
5. When your relish has simmered for 40 minutes, taste and season accordingly. Allow it to cool down for a while before placing in your sterilised jars. Be careful never to add hot relish to a cold jar (or vice versa) as the jar will shatter!
6. Cover and seal with jam pot covers. Enjoy!!!