This year, Mama Stamberg's relish shares the table with cranberry chutney (2024)

By Susan StambergNov 17, 2023 (Morning Edition / NPR)

This year, Mama Stamberg's relish shares the table with cranberry chutney (1)

It's tradition: Every year, Susan Stamberg sneaks her mother-in-law's cranberry relish recipe onto the air. This year, she's also sharing another cranberry recipe, too — a chutney from actor and food writer Madhur Jaffrey. Image: Darren McCollester/Getty Images

This year, Mama Stamberg's relish shares the table with cranberry chutney

For the last 104 Thanksgivings, I've broadcast my late mother-in-law – Mama Stamberg's — recipe for cranberry relish. This year is no exception, but there is a twist.

While I love Mama Stamberg's relish, this is not my favorite cranberry side dish. That honor belongs to actor, chef and cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey and her cranberry chutney. It's a sweet/sour mix of canned cranberries with berries, garlic, apple cider and much more. Jaffrey told me her creation was a total accident.

"I was looking for a can of tomatoes – and by mistake I opened a can of cranberries," Jaffrey recalled. "And I said, 'What the heck am I going to do with cranberries now?' "

She decided to see what would happen if she made her tomato chutney into a cranberry chutney — "and I tried it out and it was perfect!"

We hope it's a happy accident for you, too. Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. You can find both recipes below.

Madhur Jaffrey's Cranberry Chutney

1-inch piece fresh ginger
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1-pound can cranberry sauce with berries
1/2 teaspoon salt (or less)
ground black pepper

Cut ginger into paper-thin slices, stack them together and cut into really thin slivers. Combine ginger, garlic, vinegar, sugar and cayenne in a small pot, and simmer on medium flame about 15 minutes or until there are about four tablespoons of liquid left. Add can of cranberry sauce, salt and pepper. Mix and bring to a simmer. Simmer on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes. Cool, store and refrigerate.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish

This year, Mama Stamberg's relish shares the table with cranberry chutney (2)

Behold: Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish. (Yes, it's supposed to be that color.) Image: Ariel Zambelich/NPR

2 cups whole raw cranberries, washed
1 small onion
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons horseradish from a jar ("red is a bit milder than white")

Grind the raw berries and onion together.
Add everything else and mix.
Put in a plastic container and freeze.

Early Thanksgiving morning, move it from freezer to refrigerator compartment to thaw. (It should still have some little icy slivers left.)

The relish will be thick, creamy, and shocking pink. (OK, Pepto Bismol pink, according to some mis-guided listeners.) It has a tangy taste that cuts through and perks up the turkey and gravy. Its also good on next-day turkey sandwiches, and with roast beef.

Makes 1 and 1/2 pints.

Audio transcript


How do garlic, ginger, and cayenne sound for Thanksgiving next week? NPR special correspondent Susan Stamberg says actor and cookbook writer Madhur Jaffrey wasn't thinking about Thanksgiving when she came up with a delicious cranberry recipe.

SUSAN STAMBERG, BYLINE: Madhur Jaffrey, tell the story about how you came to invent this recipe.

MADHUR JAFFREY: Well, I think I was looking for a can of tomatoes, and by mistake, I opened a can of cranberries. And I said, what the heck am I going to do with cranberries now? And I thought I'd make a chutney, not with tomatoes, but I'll make it with cranberries. And I tried it out, and it was perfect.

STAMBERG: You opened a cupboard or two to see what you had at hand in order to put all this together.

JAFFREY: Right. I made it the way I used to make my tomato chutney - with garlic and ginger and all kinds of other ingredients that I always put into a chutney.

STAMBERG: What is a chutney?

JAFFREY: You know, in India, when you lick your lips, you smack them. That's the sound of snapping your lips. Chatpat (ph) - that's what we call it. And when something is really delicious and spicy and exciting to the tongue, we call it chatpati (ph).

STAMBERG: This recipe could not be simpler. You've got garlic and ginger, cider vinegar, cayenne, black pepper. And maybe the whole thing cooks for 10 minutes.

JAFFREY: It cooks until it becomes thicker and becomes a chutney.

STAMBERG: And Madhur Jaffrey, here comes the big reveal. I like your recipe better than the one that I have talked about on the radio for the last 104 years - is Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish. And it's very odd. It's got onions, sour cream, sugar, horseradish. Are you familiar with this recipe?

JAFFREY: I am not, but I know it from having you tell me about it.

STAMBERG: Well, what do you think about it? Is it something you would try yourself?

JAFFREY: I might. I'm not a great one for sour cream. I think I wasn't brought up in the sour cream culture. I was brought up in the yogurt culture.

STAMBERG: Right. But what about the horseradish?

JAFFREY: I wasn't brought up in that culture, either, though I love horseradish. I love it in a bloody mary but perhaps not in my chutney.

STAMBERG: I have to say that Mama Stamberg's is pretty controversial. The listeners either hate it or they love it. And I think it's the color because, you know, you're mixing the whiteness of the sour cream with the wonderful vivid red of the cranberries. And on the air, I say it's the color of Pepto-Bismol...

JAFFREY: (Laughter) Oh, my God.

STAMBERG: ...Although this year, I think I have to say it's the color of Barbie pink but with more oomph to it, you know?

JAFFREY: (Laughter).

STAMBERG: Well, Madhur Jaffrey, thank you so much for inventing my favorite cranberry chutney recipe. You have a book just out. It's a new book, but it's an old book.

JAFFREY: It's called "An Invitation To Indian Cooking." And it first came out in 1973. And so they brought it out once again, and it's as new as ever.

STAMBERG: That's wonderful. Well, congratulations. And a very happy Thanksgiving to you and everybody out there who is interested in fine food.

JAFFREY: That's NPR's Susan Stamberg spreading the thanks and the giving.

© 2024 NPR

This year, Mama Stamberg's relish shares the table with cranberry chutney (2024)
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