The Holiday season is a time for gathering – coming together in sacred space with friends and loved ones, reflecting on our gratitudes and experiences of the past year, and of course, sharing nourishing food. I have vivid memories of such meals, with many gathered round the table, passing homemade dishes and sharing in laughter.
More than anything on the table, I loved the side dishes. The pile of cranberry sauce on my plate rivaled the dishes it was meant to garnish. The sweet-tart flavor of cranberries was such a welcome contrast to all the richer flavors and deeply grounding foods, like meats and root vegetables. I’m sure many can remember canned cranberry sauce gracing the table, sliced up, can ridges still lingering. While many dishes have been refreshed, such as cauliflower mash in lieu of mashed potatoes, the time is ripe for giving this sauce a new twist, and just in time for the Holidays.
Approaching cranberry sauce from an Ayurvedic perspective, we can still enjoy the flavor and beneficial properties of cranberries, while cutting back on the sugar and adding in other spices that will enhance our agni, or digestive fire. Chutneys are a very traditional addition to rich meals, as a way to support digestion and breakdown of heavier foods. This chutney is full of flavor, warming spices, and comes together quite simply. The base of cranberries serves as a blood cleanser and purifying agent (think red for a blood boost). Their qualities of astringent and sour tastes penetrate the digestive organs, while also offering cooling properties to hep you feel light and energized even with some heavier than usual foods. Serve this alongside Holiday time meals, and your digestive system is sure to thank you!
Cranberry Clove Chutney
1 lb fresh cranberries
2 or more whole cloves
(more is beneficial if vata or kapha is your primary constitution, hold off on adding more if pitta is high)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2” fresh ginger root – peeled, finely grated or chopped
1 c cranberry juice – unsweetened
1 tbsp orange zest
1/3 c coconut sugar or maple syrup
(more or less to taste – less if kapha is out of balance, a little more is good for balancing vata).
3 tbsp currants
(Later Fall into Winter variation for added warmth)
In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, currants, spices, ginger, cranberry juice, and orange zest. Allow the mixture to come to a boil over medium high heat. Add in sweetener (coconut sugar or maple syrup) after turning the heat down to low. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until chutney thickens to a jammy consistency. More time will be required with less sweetener, and slightly less time, with more sweetener. You may want to remove the cloves to avoid biting into one, or leave them in to further infuse the chutney. Serve alongside roasted vegetables, steamed greens, or your favorite Holiday dish.