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Maria Orosa’s fascinating recipe for Mango Chutney

By Norma Olizon-Chikiamco, The Philippine STAR Published Jun 01, 2023 5:00 am

As head of the Bureau of Science’s Food Preservation Division, freedom fighter and war hero Maria Y. Orosa introduced methods of canning fruits and vegetables.

At that time (during the American Commonwealth period), the canned fruits and vegetables available in the Philippines were mostly imported, and thus expensive. Orosa changed all that by teaching people how to preserve local fruits such as pineapples, mangoes and jackfruits by canning or bottling them.

She also made ketchup more accessible to the masses by inventing banana ketchup, using cheaper bananas in place of the more expensive tomatoes.

One of the fruits she worked with was mangoes. Because they’re seasonal, mangoes at that time could only be enjoyed during the summer. But with her recipes for preserving them, Orosa extended the life of these precious, golden fruits. She turned mangoes into jam, marmalade, butter, and fruit paste. 

What fascinated me most was her recipe for mango chutney. Chutney is a condiment made with stewed fruit, sugar, vinegar and various spices. With its tangy taste and sweet, spicy and sour flavors, it’s the perfect side dish for roasted meats, barbecues, adobo, curries, and grilled fish.

Maria Y. Orosa was a freedom fighter and food scientist who developed hundreds of recipes for local fruits and vegetables.

Most chutney recipes use a plethora of herbs and spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cumin, chili, turmeric, cardamom and mustard seeds. This results in a very complex flavor that may take some getting used to.

On the other hand, Orosa’s recipe for mango chutney is much simpler. With only brown sugar and a minimum of spices, it’s probably the most suitable for Filipino taste.

Now that it’s mango season, there’s no better time to test Orosa’s recipe for mango chutney. I did—and found the results very likeable. This mango chutney doesn’t have to be an acquired taste; one will like it immediately. Although it tends to be rather sweet, it can be made spicier by using more red chilies or reducing the amount of sugar.

Here’s Orosa’s recipe for mango chutney, taken from the book The Recipes of Maria Y. Orosa, compiled and edited by her niece, Helen Orosa del Rosario. 

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For more on Orosa’s innovations and bravery during the war, read the children’s book Maria Orosa, Freedom Fighter, Scientist and Inventor, written by yours truly. It’s available in some branches of Fully Booked and through its online bookstore,

Mango Chutney 
This tangy mango chutney is the perfect condiment for roast meat, barbecues, curries, adobo and grilled fish.

(Based on the recipe of Maria Y. Orosa)

  • 8 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt (use the coarse variety)
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • 8 cups sliced mature but unripe mangoes (or you can use semi-ripe mangoes)
  • 3 small boxes raisins (2/3 cup)
  • 3 - 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 hot pepper (siling labuyo or bird’s-eye chili), sliced (or use more, for a spicier flavor)
  • 1 large piece ginger root, finely sliced

In a large cooking pot, combine the sugar, salt and vinegar. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. (Watch the pot because the mixture could bubble over.) Once the sugar has completely melted, remove the pot from the heat. Into a large container, strain the liquid through a piece of thick cloth (such as a cheesecloth). Return the liquid to the pot and boil again for 15 minutes.

Add the mangoes and simmer until the mangoes soften. Stir in the raisins, garlic, and hot pepper and boil for five minutes. Lastly, add the ginger root and simmer until the liquid thickens slightly. (Note: The liquid will thicken further after you’ve turned off the heat.)

Let cool then transfer to sterilized jars. Keep in the refrigerator. You can serve this with roasted meat, curries, barbecue, chicken, adobo, and grilled fish.