Spring is in full force here and the pink shoots of my rhubarb plants have unfurled into tender green leaves. It's heartening to have a robust plant that won't die no matter how I neglect it, and I do neglect it.
Why can't I appreciate this plant more? I guess familiarity breeds contempt and the bags of cut frozen rhubarb hibernating in my freezer remind me of last summer's bounty.
When we were children, we would grab a young stem of rhubarb and dip it repeatedly into a small bowl of sugar after each puckery bite. Each of us in turn would laugh at the sour faces we made as we gnawed on the pink stalks. Somehow repeating that experience as an adult no longer holds the same appeal, my children don't want to play that game either.
Our rhubarb plants are embarrassingly generous with their productivity and it just seems ungrateful to ignore the frozen chunks of rhubarb before our next harvest.
I must focus on the positive, the things we love to eat... Indian food and HP Sauce.
Our family has fallen in love with the complexity of Indian spice mixes and we generously douse HP Sauce on our food. How could I add rhubarb, Indian spices and the appeal of HP sauce into something delicious?
House Party Masala was the result of adding everything up and cooking it into a sauce.
The sauce earned two thumbs up from the family. It had the appeal of HP Sauce, a touch more of a spicy bite and a lingering shadow of Indian spice. We loved it and the sauce is on our table just in time for barbecue season.
House Party Masala Sauce
11 cups rhubarb, diced (2750 mL)
2 cups onion, chopped (500 mL)
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1&1/2 cups water (375 mL)
15 whole cloves
1 tablespoon hot chili pepper flakes (15 mL)
1 cup white vinegar (250 mL)
3 cups brown sugar (750 mL)
1/4 cup black strap molasses (60 mL)
1 teaspoon salt (5 mL)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (2 mL)
1 tablespoon garam masala
Combine rhubarb, onions, garlic, cloves and hot pepper flakes in a large stainless steel pot. Bring everything to a boil and boil gently for 15 minutes. The rhubarb will begin fall apart.
Puree the mixture in a blender and return to the saucepan. Make sure the lid of the blender is firmly attached otherwise hot sauce may explode out of your blender when it is running.
Add vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, salt, pepper and garam masala. Stirring frequently, boil gently until mixture thickens - about 45 minutes. Pour into prepared jars.
Yields 4 x 500 mL jars (2 litres or 8 cups)
Note: For safe home canning techniques and food processing please refer to Bernardin's website here.