Apples used to be hard to obtain in Sri Lanka. I clearly remember biting into my first one. My mum helped an East German sailor, named Christian, defect from his ship while he was in Sri Lanka; the operation had been planned for years, and was finally executed with Jason Bourne–like precision. During the planning we would visit Christian’s ship in Colombo harbour and he’d invite us into his cabin, where he’d lavish us with German sausage, sweets, apples and oranges — flavours that would burst in our unsuspecting mouths.
Apples are now grown in the hill country, and here’s a lovely way to enjoy them.
Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry frying pan over low heat for 3–5 minutes, or until lightly browned and aromatic. Coarsely pound using a mortar and pestle and set aside.
Sweat the onion, garlic and ginger in a frying pan over medium heat with the salt for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and the mixture is fragrant.
Stir in the pounded spice mix and the cinnamon sticks and cook for another minute or two, or until fragrant.
Add the remaining ingredients, stirring well, and cook over low heat for 5–10 minutes, or until the apple is tender. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper, take off the heat and cool quickly.
Once cooled, the relish is ready to eat straight away.
However, you could also spoon the hot relish into hot sterilised jars, seal, refrigerate and use within 2–3 days.
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