I had always wanted to taste authentic cranberry sauce, especially since we were never before introduced to this simple Thanksgiving staple until we entered a world where we learned of Thanksgiving traditions. Always pictured as red, luscious and seemingly tempting, all I got was a mush of cranberry, sort of a solidified cranberry jelly.
This year, since venturing into the world of spices and experimentation in a different kind of a science, I happened to look at the fresh organic cranberries twice. I am glad I did! They were these gorgeous bright red berries, some darker, a few that were still pink. Plump yes, fragrant like most other fruits? Not really, no, not at all…either an attribute of my congested nasal passages or true to them being themselves. You must have gauged my ignorance about this fruit already.
Nonetheless, I bought a packet and decided to experiment. Didn’t really need to do much of that! When spices are around and you choose something complimentary to the taste of something you tasted a year ago, well that is a good beginning. So I decided to go ahead with Chai spice, a spice that has so much versatility, it is amazing. Having used it in cookies, cheesecake, cakes and rice pudding apart from the Chai that my husband brews and that I wake up to some mornings, I decided it had to be a good partner for the cranberries with an emphasis on the cardamom and cinnamon and ginger in it.
These berries are self-sufficient, with enough pectin of their own. I realized that there is absolutely no reason to add gelatin or any other thickening agent. And, of course, honey adds to the consistency. I was floored by the ease of preparing this chutney-like sauce. The berries seem to surrender to the heat of the pan easily and crack open to release their goodness, taking in the honey and spice as though all these were meant to be! All I could do after about 10 minutes into the preparation was just stare in wonder at the rich, vibrant color of the chutney that was melting into a sauce with some berries unrelenting, resisting, still plump in their stance.
Turning off the heat, the cooling sauce glistened and tempted with its tart, sweet and spiced flavors.
A sure way to balance out a heavy Thanksgiving smorgasbord! Happy Thanksgiving!