I first came across banana chilli ketchup while staying in a self catering apartment in Edinburgh. It takes a certain amount of planning to buy exactly enough food to sustain two adults for three days, wasting nothing, when your nearby shopping options are the Harvey Nichols food hall (ineffectual, expensive, but fun to walk around gasping at and making furtive notes at all the fancy pastas), or a Sainsbury’s Local, where fruit and veg are sold in large packets and nothing by the handful.
I found a banana habanero chutney in Harvey Nicks by Mr Vikki’s, a small Cumbrian company, and we wolfed our way through two jars of it in a weekend. I knew that as soon as I got home and into my own kitchen, I would be knocking up my own version. And I have done it many times since, each batch slightly different to the last, and each disappearing into the homes of various friends who are absolutely obsessed with it. It’s an ideal accompaniment to a curry, or grilled cheese, or dolloped on the side of a pile of mac n cheese, or spread on toast, crackers, eaten as a dip with vegetables or cheesy nachos – it’s extremely versatile! And once you’ve got the measure of it, you can adjust it to taste – add more heat by upping the mustard and chilli, or make it a little more sour with extra vinegar, or pad it out by adding a hefty amount of sweet softened onion to the base. So this is my base recipe, but I can honestly say it varies every single time I make it.
Nowadays I add the thinly sliced banana peel as well, which is perfectly edible and packed full of nutrients – and I feel that I owe Max La Manna an apology for noisily doubting him over this when we did a talk together at the Edinburgh Wellbeing Festival earlier in the year. Caught entirely by surprise by his revelation that he stir-fried his leftover banana peels, I almost fell off my chair in shock, but he’s right, and if you aren’t familiar with his frankly life-changing approach to zero waste cooking, you can check it out here.
(To be clear, the banana ketchup is 100% my recipe, I just added the peels after Max told me – and a few hundred equally sceptical people – that they were edible!)
Makes two decent sized jars from 43p each
1 large onion, 7p (70p/1kg, Growers Selection at Asda)
4 bananas, peels and all, 52p (13p each loose, Asda)
4 fat cloves of garlic, 10p (30p/bulb, Asda)
100g sugar, 7p (69p/kg, Silver Spoon white sugar, Asda)
100ml vinegar, 4p (29p/568ml distilled clear malt vinegar, Asda)
½ tsp chilli powder, 2p (80p/100g, KTC)
1 tbsp mustard, 4p (37p/185g, Asda)
1 tsp nigella seeds (optional)
Peel the bananas and break the chunks into a bowl, then mash them with a fork until well broken up and a bit sloppy.
Very finely slice the peel, discarding only the tough stalk at the top and the puckered end, and transfer to a medium-sized saucepan, preferably a non-stick one or one with a heavy bottom. Peel and finely slice the garlic cloves and add them to the pan, along with the sugar, vinegar, chilli and mustard seeds and, if using, nigella seeds.
Turn the heat up to medium and cook for a few minutes, stirring intermittently, and then add the banana chunks. Turn the heat down a fraction, and cook for a few minutes until the banana mixture starts to bubble and spit at you. Impetuous, I know, but that’s how you know things are happening.
Reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by a third and thickened. Remove from the heat and pour into a clean (preferably sterilized) jar.
Seal and leave to cool before transferring to the fridge.
If you would prefer a smoother ketchup, you can blend the peels and flesh together in a small bullet blender at the start, along with the garlic, sugar, mustard, chilli and vinegar, and cook it all on a low, slow heat for around 30 minutes, stirring intermittently so it doesn’t catch and burn. When I’ve done it this way the ketchup ends up a darker yellow, and sometimes a ruddy brown, so I add a dash of turmeric to pep it back up again and make it look bright and appetising. Both methods are equally as good – the chunky version is great in cheese sandwiches, whereas the smoother version is easier to smuggle past suspicious palates.
This recipe is based on the Banana Chilli Ketchup in Veganish by me, Jack Monroe, and if you liked it you should check out the book, here. (This is an affiliate link, but I’m guessing that since I’m the author, you probably allow for a degree of bias in me recommending my own work anyway! But I am obliged to declare that I may earn a small commission should you choose to make a purchase through any of the links on this page.)
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