Much has been said and there has been a big ongoing debate about condiments, sauces, flavours and enhanced seasoning agents added to food to enhance taste.
We all love to have that additional zing to our food by adding tomato and chilli sauces, soy sauce, pepper sauce, mustard, ketchup, salad dressings and other flavour enhancers.
However with all the new and emerging health conditions, shoppers are urged to read the ingredients and nutritional facts on the labels of the tubes, bottles, jars and sachets to determine the health value of these products and if they may have any adverse short or long term effects. Some of these have been reported to have links to lifestyle diseases and weight gain. The common ingredient Monosodium glutamate (MSG) for example, remains controversial and its long term effects are unknown.
As a result of all these known and unknown side effects, the world is slowly going back to traditional and natural solutions that kept our ancestors healthy and happy and had no adverse effects. The move towards taking up natural options is taking root and gaining popularity. One such natural chutney that is used by those with bold and adventurous palates as a side sauce is the Mbirimbi Chutney.
Mbirimbi, otherwise known as cucumber pickle tree is a fruit-bearing tree of the genus Averrhoa and family Oxalidaceae. Mbirimbi Chutney hails from the Coastal side of the country and is a delicacy that is carefully prepared as a side accompaniment for various food dishes.
Scientifically known as Averrhoa Bilimbi it is thought that the word Mbirimbi is a derivative of this name from these communities. This chutney’s main ingredient consists of the Mbirimbi fruit that is commonly referred to as wild cucumber.
The cucumber has a very intense salty and sour taste on its own that enhances food flavour and can be used with different food combinations. The cucumber is usually cut into pieces and soaked with red chillies and minute diced carrots, then cured in the sun for a week to bring out the flavour.
Referred to by the Swahili Coastal communities from where it is sourced as Achari Mbirimbi, this chutney is a traditional delight whose culinary goodness will continue to transverse generations to come. So the next time you visit us to enjoy an African meal, please ask for a side dish of Mbirimbi to accompany your order…..