At Home with Ankit Chopra from Eat Me Chutneys

With a commitment to social justice and tackling food waste, Eat Me Chutneys is a truly remarkable concept. Using wonky produce they describe as “lumpy, bumpy, kinky and colourful”, they are committed to running an ecologically sustainable business. Ankit Chopra from Eat Me Chutneys shares the story of how his small family business came to be and his favourite recipe for an orange cake that uses the whole fruit. 

What will you be doing at Footprints Festival?
It’s going to be a short demonstration about how chutney preservation works. We’ll also be talking about food waste and saying that, if you’ve got excess stuff sitting around in your fridge, there are things that you can do with it. Chutney is just one example.

How did Eat Me Chutneys get started?

For months, my mum would make the Cameron chutney that she’d grown up with, so we said: “why don’t you take this to farmer’s markets?” It started off as a way to share – there was no point in time where we said “okay, let’s start a chutney business”. We started thinking about the idea and exploring the ingredients, tracing them back, spending a lot of time around where everything was coming from. In doing so we started seeing the food waste and excess produce and weird looking fruit, and we started to make stuff out of that.

What is the spirit of being sustainable? 

On a chance meeting at a farmers market I picked up some rhubarb, but there was another set of rhubarb that was a bit stale. We had a conversation about “hey, what are you going to do with it?”. I ended up buying two pots of rhubarb – one was nice and crisp, while the other was more frail. It got us thinking there are lots of farmers that have wonky and unsold excess produce. It’s fun to know how they’re growing things, to develop our knowledge of what it means to be organic or biodynamic, and share that with the folk that buy our chutneys.

What do you love about the Inner West? 

It’s great that it’s the kind of community that gets behind products and initiatives. For example, we get emails from Concord Markets and Concord Public School about pop up events that are happening. People will drop an email saying “you’re local, we ‘d love to have you at our event”, and that’s the best part – it’s how different types of communities get behind different initiatives. It’s awesome to have that support and we don’t have to look too far.

How is Eat Me Chutneys contributing to  environmental awareness in Australia?

First of all, educating ourselves about what it means for a business to be financially and environmentally sustainable. It’s making those choices – initially we were doing paper bags and then one day we decided to offer customers cotton tote bags. We’ve perhaps shown a slightly different way of running a business. We are a stratified corporation, so we don’t purely exist for profit. It’s also looking at who we employ and where we’re sourcing things from, and how are we trying to minimise our carbon footprint. This includes choices we make for tiny things, like what lighting we use. We’ve shown it’s possible to run a business that is profitable and ethical at the same time on a small scale level. You don’t have to be a massive business to throw money at sustainable initiatives.

Orange Slush Cake
A cracking recipe, this one goes hand in hand with what we do at Eat Me Chutneys. We chop up slightly old oranges and cook them down into orange slush. It freezes well too – simply defrost it in the refrigerator overnight and a cracking base is ready for muffins and cakes.

Orange Slush
1. Take 2-4 oranges, give them a good wash and chop them into small chunks.
2. Put into a small saucepan and just cover with cold water.
3. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for 30-45 mins til cooked (or a knife inserted into the orange skin comes out with no resistance).
4. Let them cool for a bit, then pour into a blender to make a thick yet runny puree (keep the spout open or the hot steam will cause it to explode!)
5. Cover with cling film and let it sit in the fridge overnight (very important).

1. Pour 4 eggs, a tbsp of vanilla essence, 1 cup sugar into a bowl and whisk to melt sugar.
2. Fold in 1 cup of almond meal.
3. Fold in 1 cup of the magical orange slush.
4. Pour into a cake mould and bake at 170° for about 45-60 mins til skewer comes out clean (a little moist is ok).
Let the cake cool completely and top with fruits, ice cream or whatever you fancy!