Pickles and Chutneys are always an additional welcome to any meal, if only because they go a long way in enhancing the flavour and adding a titillating punch into the most ordinary and bland meal.
While their nutrient value may not be great, still, some pickles and chutneys can be healthy and nutritious, if the ingredients used contain high fibre, minerals and very little sugar. What’s more you can turn out a chutney with leftovers - like half-a-papaw, or part of an avocado pear, ginger, over ripe tomatoes, and seasonal fruit.
Here are a few recipes we got from some of our readers as well as from our own recipe books.

Ginger Pickle (from a Dutch kitchen recipe)
2 lbs green tomatoes
2 lbs red tomatoes
2 lemons
1cup sugar
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp ginger or 4 pieces of ginger root

Scald, peel and slice the tomatoes. Slice the lemons and remove seeds. Add lemon with sugar to the tomatoes. Now add the seasonings and simmer slowly on a low fire till thick. Cool and pour into sterilised jars and seal well. Store for a month before serving.

Ripe Tomato Pickle
6 ripe tomatoes chopped
2 green peppers chopped
2 hot peppers chopped
2 cups celery chopped
4 small onions chopped
½ cup vinegar
4 cups vinegar

Chop the vegetables or put through the food chopper using a coarse blade. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Bottle in a sterilised jar.

Cucumber Pickle
3 medium size cucumbers chopped
2 large onions chopped
1 hot pepper chopped
¼ cup salt
¼ cup mustard seed
2 tsp celery
1 cup vinegar
½ cup sugar

Chop the cucumbers, onions and peppers, or put through a food chopper using a coarse blade. Add the salt and allow the mixture to stand overnight. Drain well. Add the mustard seed, celery, vinegar and sugar. Place over low fire and bring to boil. Remove from heat as soon as it is boiling and let it cool. Then pour into sterilised jars and seal at once.

Pickled Vegetables
1 cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup water
3 tsp mustard seeds
2 medium carrots peeled and sliced crossways
½ lb tender string beans
5 green peppers seeded and halved
½ lb onions washed and peeled
½ lb dates seeded and halved

Into a stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar, water, mustard, salt and sugar. Bring to boil on high heat. Reduce to medium heat and add carrots and beans, after trimming the ends and removing the strings. Stir with wooden spoon. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender and crisp. Do not overcook. Remove from heat. With a slotted spoon transfer carrots and beans into a bowl. Add peppers and onions to hot liquid sauce and stir. Cover and let it stand for 10 minutes. Return carrots and beans to the mixture. Add dates. With wooden spoon mix vegetables well to coat with the liquid sauce. Transfer to a large bowl and refrigerate. Try to stir and mix the vegetables, to coat with the liquid sauce at least once a day.
Tastes better when kept for a few days.

Malay Pickle
150 grm shallots
2 fresh green chillies
75 grm dates
1 pickled lime
3 sliced ginger
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp mustard seeds
50-75 ml vinegar
1 tsp paprika powder
25 grm sugar
¼ tsp salt

Clean the shallots (onions) and halve them. Cut the chillies lengthways and chop the dates and pickled lime. Now grind the ginger, garlic, chilli and mustard seeds together and add sufficient vinegar to make a thick paste. Add the paprika. Boil the remaining vinegar with the sugar and add the dates. Remove from heat and add the shallots, ground mixture and salt and mix well.

Sweet Mango Chutney
250 grm mangoes
100 grm sugar
2 cloves garlic
3 slices ginger
2 tsp mustard seed
2 cloves
2 cardamoms
75 ml vinegar
¼ tsp salt
50 grm Sultanas

Peel and slice the mangoes and place in a bowl for 3 hours with half the sugar. Crush the garlic, ginger and mustard seeds together and crush the cardamoms and cloves. Mix all these ingredients together and add the vinegar, chilli powder and salt. Put in a pan and add the remaining sugar and cook for about 10-15 minutes. Now add the mango slices and mix well. Cook for a further 10 minutes. Mix well and stir in the sultanas.

Date Chutney
100 grm Dates
3 cloves garlic
2 slices ginger
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 cardamoms
2 cloves
100 grm sugar
250 ml vinegar
1 tsp chilli powder
2 cm. cinnamon stick
50 grm sultanas
½ tsp salt

Stone the dates and chop the flesh finely. Grind the garlic, ginger and mustard seeds together and crush the cardamoms and cloves. Place the sugar in a pan, pour on the vinegar and heat gently. When the sugar has dissolved, add the dates, chilli powder, garlic, mustard, ginger, cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon stick and cook over a low heat until the liquid thickens, but ensure the dates are not pulpy. Now add the sultanas and cook for a further 2 minutes. Finally add the salt and allow to cool.

Pineapple and Date Chutney
1 medium size pineapple
1 thin slice fresh ginger crushed and chopped
3 cloves garlic
3 tsp chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp seasoning of any kind
¼ cup vinegar
½ tsp cumin seeds
8 oz diced and stoned dates.
Tomato paste

Add the pineapple, ginger, garlic, chilli powder, turmeric, paprika, seasoning, vinegar, tomato paste and cumin seed. Puree slightly. Add puree to non stick skillet. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon so puree does not stick to skillet. Reduce to low heat. Add dates and keep stirring. Mash dates with the spoon. When it becomes a very thick paste, remove from heat and let it cool. Put into a washed sterilised jar and refrigerate if your wish.

Household Hints

Crackled wooden clothes hangers
If wooden clothes hangers develop cracks or surface roughness which may damage the clothes, smoothen them with a coat of nail polish.

Fraying cuffs
To prevent trouser cuffs from fraying on the edge, when rubbed against the shoe constantly, stitch two small buttons inside the cuff at the bottom of each trouser leg, one inch on either side of the crease. The buttons will stop the fabric from rubbing against the shoes.

Perspiration odour
To get rid of odour of underarm perspiration from woolens, sponge with lemon juice and water and hang the garment in the air.

Ticking of clock
Many dislike a clock ticking in the bedroom while they are trying to sleep. To minimise the sound, place the clock on a piece of foam sponge.
Spices to boost Immunity

Spices are not only a good natural way to enhance the flavour of your food, they can also help you to be healthy and prevent debilitating diseases. The following spices and herbs are some examples:
* Garlic- Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure among other things. It contains Vitamins C, A and B, and this is said to prevent cancer by stimulating the immune system to eliminate toxins and combat cancer genes.
*Ginger- Eases nausea and helps digestion. It is also good when you have a tummy upset. A teaspoon of ginger in a cup of plain tea is a tried method to cure a bad tummy upset.
*Cloves- Also relieves stomach ailments and is also good for rheumatism.
*Cumin- Also said to relieve indigestion and wind. When you have a cold, put a few cumin seeds into a cup of hot water and drink it to relieve you.
*Fenugreek (Uluhal)- Also a digestive aid. The seeds are said to have hypoglycemic activity and is good lowering sugar in diabetic patients.
*Coriander - Tea or water also helps to reduce fever, by inducing urination. It is also good to clear one’s blocked sinuses when inhaled. Coriander is reputed to cure kidney problems, mouth ulcers and swellings.
*Fennel- Has a long history of use as a carminative and weight loss aid. Fennel seeds are sometimes eaten raw and are said to improve eyesight.
Beauty tip from the kitchen

Fenugreek boiled in water with lime and nelli is an effective hair cleanser and used to cure dandruff, leaving the hair with a fragrance as well.
Health tip for Pregnant Women

Eating poorly during pregnancy can increase your children’s and your grandchildren’s risk of cancer, even if they themselves eat healthily, a new study on rats suggests.
The risk associated with high-fat diets, especially those high in omega-6 fatty acids, “can be passed from one generation to another, without any further exposure,” said lead Researcher Sonia de Assis of Georgetown University.

Health tip for Older Women

Exercise your brain daily, as the older you grow the more problems you will have remembering things, since age affects one’s memory. Join a book or discussion club where you will keep your mind active. Sign up for a class at the local library, senior centre, where you will have social intercourse with people your age. Do word puzzles, number puzzles, jigsaw puzzles - whatever interests you to keep your mind alert. Ensure you challenge your brain by trying new things, rather than just repeating the same exercises over and over again. If you have a computer to sites such as www.games.aarp.org for free mind games of all kinds, to play alone or with others.
Health tip

Honey is an excellent antibiotic, externally (for sores etc) and internally (curing ulcers and stopping diarrhoea). It can also be used as a sedative in hot drinks. So keep a bottle of bees honey in your larder.
Tip to encourage kids to eat eggs

Make a bread hole egg
If your child dislikes eating eggs, here’s a way to induce him/her to do so without much persuasion. Make a bread hole egg. For this, use a large round biscuit cutter to remove the centre from a slice of bread. Now slip a raw egg into the centre hole. Turn and brown the other side of the bread and egg, adding more butter if necessary. Brown the round centre piece as well. Children love to call this part the “lid”, which is placed on top of the cooked egg just before it is served..


Trevor Baines, Executive Chef at Hotel Topaz, Kandy

By Arundathie Abeysinghe
Trevor Baines, the Executive Chef at Hotel Topaz, Kandy
Trevor Baines, the Executive Chef at Hotel Topaz, Kandy was born in Mutwal and studied at St. Benedicts College Colombo 13. Trevor liked to cook from the day his mother taught him to make a pol sambol using a pestle and mortar.
He served in many prestigious hotel chains before joining Hotel Topaz; from 1979 – 1981 at Hotel Ceylon InterContinental, Colombo; from 1981- 1988 Royal Commission of Saudi Arabia; from 1988 at Hotel Taj Samudra Colombo; from 1993- 1996 at Carnival Cruise lines Maimi U.S.A. ( onboard luxury liners), from 1996 – 1998 at Mahaweli Reach Hotel, Kandy.

Q: What was your first hotel?

Hotel Ceylon InterContinental, Colombo. I still recollect the tough training in the kitchen starting from the kitchen cleaning and pot washing under Swiss and French chefs when hoteliering was getting popular in Sri Lanka. There were only two five star hotels; Lanka Oberoi and Intercontinental. There was a tough competition to join these hotels. I still relish the training I got at these prestigious five-star hotels.

Q: When did you join Hotel Topaz and Tourmaline? How long are you there?
I have worked in this hotel complex for more than 13 years. I joined in February 1998. This a very satisfying and challenging job and I am proud to work for the McLarens Group of Hotels.
I really appreciate the encouragement / opportunities given by the Joint Managing Director of Hotels who was able to unearth my public relations skills.
I mingle a lot with guests and discuss their likes and dislikes, and thus, I am able to nip many adverse comments in the bud. I try to cater to the guest requirements as far as possible.

Q. What are your future plans, for the hotel as well as your professional life?
A: The Tourmaline, a part of the complex, has undergone a major refurbishment. My dream is to make it the best boutique hotel in Kandy. We are looking at up market clients. I hope to be at McLarens Hotels until its time to say goodbye to my career as a chef.

Q. What is your favourite dish, Western? What is your favourite food, Sri Lankan?
My favorite western dish is Spaghetti with fresh Tomato Sauce. I always prefer home made dishes. My favourite Sri Lankan Food is plain white rice, kiri hodi , hot pol sambol and dry fish tempered. I still relish my mother’s fish curry. I occasionally cook at home.

Q: What are the places in Sri Lanka you like to visit as well as visited?
As my father was a Medical Representative, we used to go and spend weekends with him from Jaffna to Matara. My favourite place is Kandy, my second home town and I also like the cool climes of Nuwara Eliya

Q: Have you many friends ?
I am very choosy with my friends. Still maintain close contacts with a few school mates from St. Benedicts. These friends have been loyal and sincere.

Q: How do you find the work at the hotel, interesting, challenging etc.
A combination of both.A special word of appreciation to Jt. MD of McLarens Hotels, Anura Basnayake . He unearthed a lot of my talents. As I was a very shy and backward person initially, he encouraged me to mingle with guests, speak to them and to minimise food complaints. I convey my gratitude to the entire Board of Directors of McLarens Group for my achievements.

Q:Tell me something about your life, your family, their contribution to make your career a success etc.
My wife was working in a leading bank but retired prematurely to be with my two daughters. My eldest daughter is an undergraduate at the Peradeniya University. She is reading for a special degree in English and is very fluent in French. The second daughter is studying in the Advanced Level and wants to be an engineer. A special word for my wife, Geraldine for her encouragement and patience regarding my profession which demands long hours of work and work during weekends.

Q: During your leisure, what do you do?
I read a lot, keep myself updated on current news local and international.
I contributed a lot to the hotel by winning the general knowledge contest of McLarens group a couple of times. I have been a member of the steering committee of the Chefs Guild of Lanka since 2002. I function as the Central Province Regional President and organised a pastry training programme in Kandy with Anchor foods and a successful ice carving competition jointly with Jetwing St. Andrews Hotels Nuwara Eliya.
I would like to thank Chefs Gerard Mendis and Haleesha Weerasinghe, Chairman and President of the Chef Guild of Lanka for appointing me as the Regional President.

(one portion)
• 50g Dairy cream
• 50ml Fresh Milk
• 25g sugar
• 2 egg yolks
• 5g Gelatine
• 10ml Water
• 20ml Fresh Orange Juice
• 10ml Rum


• Boil the cream milk and sugar mixed and leave a side.
• Add egg yolk and cook until mixture becomes thick and creamy take off the heat.
• Dissolve Gelatin in 10ml water and add into main mixture.
• Add orange juice and rum.
• Pour in to a mould and set in the refrigerator.
• When set demould and garnish with a little bit of orange juice and serve.