Recipe: Curry spiced pickles for Christmas

Charlotte's spicy curry Christmas pickles Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

Charlotte's spicy curry Christmas pickles Picture: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis - Credit: Archant

Charlotte's recipes is inspired by the head chef at No1 Cromer.

No Boxing Day spread is complete without a load of relishes, chutneys and pickles. Part of the reason for this is they're damn delicious, obviously. But I suspect another good reason for putting on an endless buffet of 'things in jars' is to get rid of them so we can fit our flipping Christmas food in the fridge!

I don't know about you but I'm already having palpitations about it. Besides the bird and the veg, I''ve likely got to fit a pavlova in the chiller and about a gazillion other items. So where are they going to go?

At this time of year I have a sweep out of the top level of the fridge to make a bit more room. There's always some kind of relish I rarely use (like harissa) which I inevitably have to ditch, cursing myself for not freezing it in ice cubes like the domestic goddess I imagine myself to be. There'll be a forgotten-about jar of strawberry preserve from the summer with a hairy layer of mould growing on top. And salad cream. Always salad cream.

I've had to restrain myself from being so overeager at farmers' markets and food shows. I get so carried away tasting and buying that I end up with more jars of mustard, pickle and spice than I could possibly eat. And I think I've been much more restrained this year. I've had a relish edit. If you want to know (I'm going to tell you anyway) here are my favourite local pots.

1. Monty's Mustard with cumin - which is the biz in cauliflower cheese, on cheese on toast and in a ham sandwich.

2. Sym's Bacon Jam - spicy, sweet, sticky, nommy. Amazing on top of grilled prawns.

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3. Candi's Chutneys Non Mango Mango Chutney - made with local Bramley apples. I love it.

Alongside these three delights this Christmas will be some of my own pickles, made over the weekend and currently steeping in the cupboard. There's a big jar of sweet pickled red cabbage, made to a recipe by the inimitable Diana Henry. Beside it is a vat of my curry pickled veg. I hope you don't think I'm being too immodest when I say those curry pickled vegetables are some of the best I've ever had. I get inundated by requests for them. And my friend Jo's dad (who says in his East End twang that they're 'andsome) was so taken by the pickles last year he kept them on his person, ferrying them about the office at work and even packing them in his luggage to take to his second home in Spain for the summer. Now that's love.

The inspiration and much of the credit for the pickles must go to the head chef at Galton Blackiston's restaurant No1 Cromer, Jimmy. The tangy, spicy veg he served with a beefy Malaysian curry when I ate there last winter, were out-of-this-world-good and I begged Galton to ask Jimmy for the recipe.

So here it is, with a little tweak. You'll need a 2lt Kilner (or other food safe) jar and for best results at Christmas should make it soonish. You won't be able to stop eating them.

Curry pickles

(makes about 2lts of pickle)


1.2kg white cyder vinegar

1.2kg golden caster sugar

1tbsp ground turmeric

1tbsps fennel seeds

1tbsp mustard seeds

1tsp chilli flakes

1 large white cabbage (not Savoy or January King)

1 bulb fennel

750g carrots, peeled

2 peppers, deseeded

1 large cucumber, halved down its length 50g salt

4 red chillies


Place the vinegar and sugar and spices into a large preserving pan and bring to the boil then simmer until the sugar's dissolved. Slice the vegetables into 1cm wide pieces and thinly slice the chillies, keeping the seeds. Mix with the salt. Set over a colander for one hour to allow the excess water to drain.

Rinse the vegetables and add them to the pan with the vinegar, sugar and spice mix. Bring to the boil, simmer for a few minutes then turn off the heat and leave to sit for 1.5 hours. Sterilise your jar. Bring the pickle to the boil again and bottle.