Monday, July 22, 2013

SPICY PLUM BARBECUE SAUCE and Grilled Tofu - How I went from making sweet jam to spicy barbecue sauce

Harvard takes perfectly good plums as students, and turns them into prunes - Frank Lloyd Wright

Hope your weekend was good.

Plum Barbeque Sauce

I was 7, I think. It was 19XX coughs ;)..

During vacations,  my grandma whom I fondly called 'Amma' and the little me, each carrying  a wire grocery bag walked hand in hand to our local fruit market. Just the BAG, brings back nostalgic memories.

After much bargaining, we load our baskets with different fruits. Walking to the auto stand with heavy load was a task in itself, we take an auto-rickshaw to a place I loved to go.

I still remember the whitewashed walls, big huge 5 foot industrial style machines and the smell of sweet sugar and fruits. Large aluminium tables adorned the middle of the room, knifes and peelers were all set to be used.  
We went there to make JAM. It was a jam making facility.

Plum Barbeque Sauce 2

Among 30 middle aged hyper women and big machines running, the little kids were easily forgotten.

Oh, what fun it was for us kids to see the machine peel oranges and the fruits turning to mush. I don't exactly remember how it was cooked but all I remember is that my grandma would bottle it up and promise me that she would buy some fresh bread from our corner bakery. I could never get enough of fresh jam.

The process took a whole 5 hours and I am still surprised that we could do all that in India way back and now it is gone :-( . The concept of using local produce to make our own products is coming back in US now.

Plum Barbeque3

Inspired by my fond memories of summer, I decided to make jam with my boys. I just got a huge bag of fresh of the tree plums from my good friend's garden (completely organic).

With Plums simmering in sugar, our home smelled exactly like how I remember from years ago.  My little one comes running down and asks If I was making Halwa(Indian dessert). He sat on the kitchen counter and saw his brother stirring away, constantly complaining why he wasn't in on the action. 

When it was quarter way done, my older one decided to  taste it and his face went all sorts of weird, we realized that the plums were not sweet at all, they were tart.
I had to make it work, quickly turned it into a Spicy BARBECUE sauce. Brilliant, tasted like none other. It went perfect with grilled chicken and my vegan friends enjoyed their tofu with barbecue sauce.

Go ahead and try a small batch to see how you like it and you will be making bottles before the season is over..

Plum Barbeque1



Makes 1 Quart
1hr and 30 minutes


3 lbs Red Plums
6 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger finely grated
3 thin slices lemon
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp spice pepper(or black whole pepper)
4 sage leaves
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp red chili powder
2 tsp salt 


1. Keep a large heavy or thick bottom deep pan and turn on the stove to medium heat.
2. Add the pitted plums and brown sugar.  
3. While it is coming to a boil, in a large cheese cloth add, whole lightly crushed garlic, pepper, coriander seeds, cumin seed, sage leaves, lemon slices and tie it tightly. Add the packet to the plum mixture. 
4. Add apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, finely grated ginger, red chili powder, salt and Worcestershire sauce and bring the mixture to a boil stirring continuously.
5. Turn the flame to simmer and let cook for 40-45 minutes. 
6. Turn off the heat and let cool.  
7. Once a bit cooled, take out the cheese cloth and press it hard to drain the juice and  strain the plum sauce in a large strainer so that you get a good consistency sauce without any pulp.
8. Add the strained sauce again to the same pan and bring it to simmer.  Check for spices, and add anything you want accordingly.
9.  Again simmer it for 15 more minutes and turn off the heat and cool.  
10. You could it in jars and store refrigerated for up to a month or at room temperature for a week.  
11.  You could use this with any of your favorite meats, I used chicken and tofu, both of which we enjoyed.


Marinate slices of firm tofu in the barbecue sauce for an hour and grill it in an outdoor grill or like I did in my foreman's grill(love it). You could top with chia seeds before grilling.
Serve with some barbecue sauce on the side.



Reshma said...

Autos, wire bags, oh such wonderful nostalgic memories of home.

Innovative idea of changing from jam to sauce!

Dixya said...

beautiful memories :) I have never tried making any jams or sauce but seeing this use as a great marinade,I might have to pick up some plums.

Denise Browning@From Brazil To You said...

Quick thinking...Great job! These tofu skewers with BBQ sauce look amazing!

marcie@flavorthemoments said...

Ash, this barbecue sauce sounds brilliant, just as you say. I love the story behind your jam-making as a child. It was so detailed I almost felt as if I was there. Lovely story, and a must-try barbecue sauce!

Nikhil Shivakumar said...

The idea of turning a plum jam into a barbecue sauce was ingenious! And the taste of the grilled tofu with the sauce was simply exceptional.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What an interesting sauce and combination! Those tofu skewers must taste mighty good. The kind of food I love.



neelamba sekaran said...

Lovely memories. Thanks for taking me back to those days. Your immediate action of converting jam to sauce is highly appreciated.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a lovely memory and I can imagine how the fresh jam would have tasted with some fresh bread :)

sushmita pandit said...

wow love this sauce recipe of the anecdote...

Shashi Charles said...

I love tofu - what an amazing sound sauce to accompany your tofu!
Cannot wait to try this one! Thanks so much for sharing!

Sayantani said...

first time here and am bowled over by your gorgeous clicks. lovely presentation and beautiful recipes.

Sowmya D.S.L said...

Interesting combo of flavors. My hubby loves barbecue sauce... bookmarking it to try :) Nice clicks.. Love the one with sunlight

Asmita said...

This delicious sauce along with the tofu skewers sounds divine!

Manju @ Manjus Eating Delights said...

Lovely post Asha...and gorgeous pics. I love such sweet spicy jams or barbecue it tased superb!!

Gourmantine said...

Beautiful post! I can relate such memories, my grandma used to make all the jams at home from fruits and berries from our garden, nothing can beat it to this day!
p.s. the whole idea of BBQ plum jam is fabulous

Treatntrick Treat and Trick said...

I always love your gorgeous photos as well the dishes you've created. This combo looks heavenly...

Rekha Vengalil said...

Wow Asha this such a wonderful sauce. Loved it :)

Archana said...

I've never been to a Jam making factory in India - I also didn't get a chance to meet either of my grandparents, sigh. Where was this Jam factory?
I love plums, this combination of grilled tofu and the sauce is just brilliant!

raynatakesthecake said...

This looks great! Thanks for sharing!

Swathi Iyer said...

That is wonderful barbeque sauce, homemade is always best.

Asha Shivakumar said...

Thanks for all your time and lovely comments. I am so thankful to my grandmom who gave me such beautiful memories and this is a very special post as this was the month she decided to leave us...

Asha Shivakumar said...

@ Archana-:(..but they know you miss em'.
I have very vague ideas as to where the place was, I should ask my mom. Will let you know.

Nupur UK-Rasoi said...

The negative shot is just Wow !!

Amy said...

I'm loving your food memories and this Spicy Plum BBQ sauce and grilled tofu. Plum from friends' or your own garden are the best (I pick mine from my in-law's garden) cos you know their quality and best yet, completely organic. I wish I have more space at my place to plant more fruit and veggies too.

Sippity Sup said...

I think we call that pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Good job. GREG

Liz Berg said...

What a great save! It looks like a marvelous BBQ sauce!

Asha Shivakumar said...

Nupur- thanks
Amy- The fresh organic is best, I wish I had a green thumb..
Liz- Thanks, it was good.

Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl said...

I'm always looking for new barbecue sauces so I have got to try this!

Monica said...

Good thinking on your toes! Sounds like a terrific barbecue sauce. I think your grandma would be proud.

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said...

What a lovely post and a terrific sauce.

There's one person locally with a commercial kitchen who'll process your home grown food using your own recipe but it's not cheap. I think it's a great idea.

Little CookingTips said...

Thank you Asha, for your recipe and for your beautiful article...!

Kiran @ said...

In love with plum sauce! Especially in stir-fry's.

Loved reading about sweet memories :)

Asha Shivakumar said...

@ Kiran, what a fantastic idea, I have plenty, will use it in stir fry..awesome. Thanks.
@ Thanks everyone..
@ Maureen, it is a neat idea right, we should start something like that here, it will do good.;)

@Monica- thanks, I'm happy to just share a bit of what she transferred to me.
@ Cooking tips- thanks, I am glad you enjoyed it..

Savitha Ganesan said...

Perfectly grilled your dite.happy to be your follower.

Anu said...

Beautiful pictures, love 'em and thanks for now i know what am i doing with the batch of plums on my kitchen shelf already.

easyfoodsmith said...

First time at your blog space and I loved reading your post. It is brilliant how you managed to turn the jam into a barbecue sauce. It must have tasted great with the grilled tofu.

Bill said...

Barbecue sauces with fruit are the best. Grilling as much as I do, I'm always on the hunt for great barbecue sauces. This one looks fantastic. Great post!

kumars kitchen said...

such an enlivening fruity sauce, perfectly smeared over tofu, divine

cquek said...

Awesome creation! I’m sure it must have been incredibly addictive and good!

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

As a tofu fan, I always look for great new recipes. You inspired me to make this plum jam! Love that you used it with tofu!

Asha Shivakumar said...

Thanks for your feedback and comments, and I really hope you get to try and do let me know how it turns out.

Gourmet Getaways said...

Cooking memories with my family are my favourite memories. So lovely that you are continuing this with your boys.

Love the plum sauce recipe. I will have to try it when plums are in season here :)

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