Pear Chutney with Dates and Pecans

-Recipe from Yamuna mataji

         While residing in the vale of Evesham, I had the opportunity to sample some of England’s best produce. Every day for weeks on end I took on the challenge of coming up with a different cooked chutney, and in due course this recipe emerged from the test kitchen as everyone’s favorite.

Preparation and cooking time (after assembling ingredients): about 1 hour
Makes: about 1 cups (360 ml)

- teaspoon (1-2 ml) crushed dried red chilies
1 table spoon (15 ml) scraped, finely shredded or minced fresh ginger root
table spoon (7 ml) grated orange zest
teaspoon (1 ml) crushed cardamom seeds
 2-inch (5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick
2 table spoons (30 ml) ghee or unsalted butter
cup (120 ml) fresh orange juice
cup (40 g) maple sugar or brown sugar, packed
6-7 medium-sized Bosc pears (about 2 pounds/1.5 kg), peeled, quartered, cored and cut crosswire into 1/3 –inch (1 cm) slices
cup (95 g) pitted soft dates, snipped into 1/3-inch (1 cm) pieces
1/3 cup (40 g) chopped toasted pecans

1.    Combine the red chilies, ginger, orange zest, cardamom seeds and cinnamon on a saucer. Place the ghee or butter in a 3-quart/liter saucepan over low heat. Before the ghee is hot or the butter froths, add the combined spices. Fry for 1-2 minutes to release flavors. Add the orange juice and sugar, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the pears, bring to a gentle boil, and cook until syrupy and thick, about 30 minutes. Stir often during the last 5 minutes to prevent scorching.
2.    Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the dates and pecans, and cool to room temperature. Serve, or cover and refrigerate for 3-4 days.