Recipe | End-of-Summer Chow Chow — by Christall Lowe

The gathering of food and the gathering of people to share a meal are at the heart of Māori family life. Christall Lowe’s book, Kai, is a passionate homage to a life deeply rooted in food, where exquisite flavours weave seamlessly with cherished food memories.

— Read the full interview about Christall’s book, garden and life of kai here.

Words by Christall Lowe

Pātaka — Pantry

The pātaka. A storehouse raised upon posts, a pantry or larder. The essential ingredients, food from many, and for many.

Traditionally, a plentiful pātaka signified status and wealth, and the more ornately carved pātaka further symbolised the prestige of the iwi. In our family, it’s not so much about how much food you have in your storehouse, but what you do with it.

I consider our pātaka to not be a physical building, but a food supply from many, and for many. Whether it be vegetables from family members’ gardens, fruit from friends’ trees, baking from an aunty’s kitchen, jars of pickle from Uncle Sam, freshly caught crayfish from a brother-in-law, rēwena bread and freshly picked watercress from a colleague, or wild venison hunted by my husband. It’s the gathering of kai that is local and seasonal wherever possible, and the sharing of that kai with others.

I strongly believe in eating local, eating what you love and what loves your body in return (everyone is different!). I’ve never been comfortable using a whole lot of imported and exotic ingredients to replace what we can easily access right here.

The carbon miles for a start astound me, but also the destruction of local habitat and livelihoods to produce some of these ‘fad foods’ for the Western diet is unreal. And while I am nowhere near perfect when it comes to eating locally, I do try my best to source the majority of my ingredients from as close as possible, within New Zealand. To me it just makes sense. Why would I buy oranges imported from California, when I can get some grown a few minutes down the road? We have the best ingredients right here in our back yard — even if it means we don’t get to eat watermelon in the winter, or tamarillos in the summer.

Kamokamo growing in the garden

End-of-Summer Chow Chow

[This recipe is] another great way to use up all the veges in an exploding garden, or veges that are cheap to buy at the end of summer. Anything goes, really, as long as you get the base right. All the men in our family make incredible pickle with kamokamo, and this chow chow recipe is a flavour memory of a good pickle with cheese and crackers.

ALSO TRY: FEIJOA ICECREAM — Recipe by Christall Lowe


RECIPE — End-of-Summer Chow Chow

MAKES: Approx. 6 x 300ml jars


2 cups green tomatoes, chopped

4 cups vegetables, e.g. kamokamo, courgette, cauliflower, cucumber, green beans, chopped into chunks

2–3 large onions, chopped

⅔ cup salt cold water to cover

1 tbsp mustard seeds

⅔ cup white sugar

2 cups white vinegar

1 tbsp mustard powder

1 tbsp ground turmeric

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

½ cup plain flour or cornflour (for GF)


Put all of the prepared vegetables into a large nonmetallic (non-reactive) bowl, sprinkle over salt and pour over the cold water. Mix salt water through the vegetables, cover and leave to stand for 24 hours.

The next day, drain the water off thoroughly, and transfer the vegetables to a large stockpot. Add the mustard seeds, sugar and 1 cup of the white vinegar to the pot and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender.

In a small bowl, mix the mustard powder, turmeric, cayenne pepper and flour together. Gradually add the remaining 1 cup vinegar to create a smooth paste. Add this mixture to the pot, continuing to simmer, and stir until the mixture starts to thicken.

Pack immediately into hot, sterilised jars. Chow chow will keep for up to a year in a cool, dark place.

Words and recipe extracted from Kai: Food stories and recipes from my family table by Christall Lowe

(Photography by Christall Lowe, published by Bateman Books, RRP $59.99)

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