Rafel Soler.


Soller-born Rafel Soler is a very talented person. On leaving school, he studied Catalan philology but was also a very good saxophone player and had a calling for music, so he began working in the hostelry sector playing music, while studying and playing with some of the great and famous saxophonists around the world, including the UK. “I loved going to Ronnie Scott’s in London,” he says.

However, he had another hidden skill, which he had picked up from his mother, and that was cooking. But with everything else going on in his life, he had little time to dedicate to cooking; much of his spare time was spent enjoying another of his favourite pastimes - hiking. “It was 2013. A good friend of mine, one of the best mountain guides in Soller, suggested we went hiking in Nepal, make our way up to Everest base camp and visit Annapurna mountain.

“So, off we went. It was an amazing experience and, amongst many other things, reignited my culinary senses, especially the chutneys. I guess they were a throwback to the days of the Empire, but the Nepalese and the Hindus had adapted their own over the years.

“Obviously, they were very spicy. Some were extremely hot, not suited to the Mediterranean palate, but I was so inspired by these different chutneys and the products that were being used to make them. I decided to experiment with local produce in Soller, primarily using our excellent oranges and lemons, and develop a sweet, softer Mediterranean chutney.

“In Nepal and India, they use less sugar and more vinegar, so I decided to reverse that in my recipes as I began experimenting. I spent the best past of a year experimenting, with my idea to bring out a sweet first range. I took an approach rather similar to that of making confiture, which I had learnt from my mother.

“The base is the oranges and lemons - it’s such a shame so many are just left to rot and are not harvested properly - and integral brown sugar. All of my produce is ecological and from Soller, when possible. I am in the process of planting a large vegetable garden so that I can produce all my own ingredients.”

The first three chutneys of the “Chatnidolç” (sweet chutney) range, which came out in January, are lemon, pumpkin and raisin. The second is orange, chickpea, lemon and the third is orange and carrot.

“These suit the Mediterranean palate, especially here in Majorca where people, on the whole, are not used to spicy food. I guess they are a Majorcan jam with the soul of Indian chutney - a mix of flavours, cultures, quality, traditions, dedication, passion and searching for balance. These chutneys are ideal to have with biscuits, breads, pastry, cheese, hams, pasta, salad, meats, whatever. They have been well received and are on sale around the island, especially in Soller, Deya, Valldemossa, Pollensa, Alcudia and Binissalem.

“But as I am a one-man band and source the produce and make the chutneys myself, time is limited with regards to distribution etc. However, the response has been extremely positive and I am now finalising a second phase which is going to be more spicy, have a bit more kick for the European market. I will be using Majorcan aubergines, black pepper, a bit of curry and other local spices.”

For more information visit: www.chatnimallorca.com.