Agra Dolce

The idea of agra-dolce is essentially to try to achieve a balance between contrasting tastes-salty (or savory) and sweet. Where each ingredient will both compliment but also pull against the other as well, to create a harmony of flavors that both satisfy and excite the palate.

In my kitchen the principle of agra-dolce has its base in chutney’s, relishes and spicy-sweet tomato jam. Using ingredients such as maple syrup, honey or molasses and then contrasting it with soy sauce, vinegar, chile, or citrus is the perfect way to achieve this idea.

The recipe below uses apricots, golden orange fruits with velvety skin and flesh are smooth and sweet with an almost musky flavor, with a faint tartness that lies somewhere between a peach and a plum. The addition of sweet plump raisins, golden syrup and cider vinegar help to create that opposing flavor balance of agra-dolce.

This chutney would be a lovely accompaniment to a roast chicken, pork or any pilaf made with aromatic rice such as basmati. It would also be a welcome addition on a cheese board, either with a creamy goat cheese or even a nutty Manchego.


Apricot-Raisin Chutney

Adapted from Living Magazine, June 2005

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 1 pound apricots, pitted and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup good quality honey or golden syrup
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes.

Transfer onion to a large saucepan. Add apricots, sugar, honey, raisins and vinegar. Cook over medium heat, stirring until thickened, about 25 minutes.

Pour chutney into a large bowl. Let cool completely. Serve at room temperature. Chutney can be refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 1 week.

makes 2 cups