This Southern Cha Cha relish recipe (sometimes called chow chow) makes a condiment that was first popular in the 1800's in the Southern states. Probably just as popular today if not more so.
Cha Cha is unique in that it may be made in a wide variety of ways with significantly different ingredients. This is a basic recipe that you can revise to fit your own taste.
You can make it hot and spicy or sweet and mild with this recipe.
Southern Cha Cha
Yield: 12 servings
- 4 cups cabbage, grated
- 4 cups green tomatoes, chopped (you can substitute red tomatoes)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon pickling spice (recipe HERE to make your own)
- 1/3 tablespoon dried dill weed
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/3 cup vinegar (add an additional 2 tablespoons vinegar if using red tomatoes)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Tabasco Sauce or jalapeno pepper (optional - see note 2 below)
- 1 cup water IF NEEDED (see note 1 below)
1. Place all ingredients, except vinegar, in a large pot and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Taste and add vinegar a spoonful at a time until you get the tartness you like. Add any other seasoning to taste at this time if needed.
3. Cool and store in the refrigerator if you intend to consume within days. If you do not expect to consume soon, place hot relish in sterilized canning jar and process in a boiling water bath 10-15 minutes. If processed in this manner you do not need to refrigerator until opened.
1. This dish depends on the tomatoes for the liquid. Some tomatoes (especially if green) may have insufficient juice. If the cha cha seems too dry, add water as needed. Some tomatoes may provide too much juice. If needed, pour off any excess after refrigeration.
2. If you like hot and spicy Cha Cha, add 1-2 tbsp. Tabasco Sauce or 1 chopped jalapeno pepper (to taste) to the above recipe.
3. If you like your Cha Cha a little crunchy, simmer only about 15-20 minutes. If you like soft vegetables, simmer 30+ minutes.
4. Traditional Cha Cha is made with green tomatoes. We prefer red since they are more available year round. You can also substitute Mexican tomatillo, which are generally available in the summer in major supermarkets.
5. Serve Cha Cha with any meat or vegetable. Very good with FRIED PORK CHOPS