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What is Chutney?

clear jar of chutney

Chutney is a savory condiment made from slow-cooked fruits or vegetables, vinegar, and spices. Originating from India, chutneys have traveled the globe, and every country has their own take on this versatile condiment. Chutneys from South Africa will often include apricots, while British chutneys favor the use of apples. Indian chutneys can be made from a wide variety of ingredients, including coconut, mint, peanut, mango, or tamarind.

What Is Mango Chutney?

Mango chutney is a popular chutney that combines chunks of sweet mangos with ginger, garlic, chili flakes, and vinegar. The result is a spicy, sweet, and tangy chutney that complements curries, lamb, and pork dishes.

What Is Chutney Used For?

One thing all chutneys have in common is they are made to complement other dishes. Many Indian recipes are not considered complete without chutney to accompany the meal. Chutneys can be served as a dipping sauce for naan, a condiment for curry, or even as a spread on toast to add bursts of concentrated flavor.

How to Make Chutney

Chutneys are made by slow cooking fruit or vegetables with ginger, garlic, and chilies. Spices and vinegar are added to preserve the chutney and give it a tangy flavor. Making your own chutneys to serve with entrees and appetizers requires little effort and produces a unique, flavorful condiment that your guests will remember.

Types of Chutney

jars of preserved chutney with striped string and labels

After chutneys made their way out of India and around the world, each country and region put their own spin on this popular condiment. Because of this, you can find chutneys made with a variety of ingredients. The following represent some of the most recognizable types of chutney:

  • Mango Chutney - One of the most common styles of chutney, mango chutney contains mango, ginger, garlic, and vinegar.
  • Major Grey's Chutney - Believed to have been created by a 19th-century British officer, this chutney also contains mango but is differentiated by the addition of raisins and lime juice.
  • Mint Chutney - This chutney is a common dipping sauce for Indian samosas and contains fresh mint, fresh cilantro, and green chilies blended until smooth.
  • Tomato Chutney - There are blended tomato chutneys and chunky-style tomato chutneys, but most contain tomatoes, chilies, and garlic. Serve this flavorful chutney with naan bread.

Chutney vs Jam

The main difference between chutneys and jam is that jam is sweet while chutney is savory. Chutneys can be made with sweet ingredients like fruits, but the added spices and vinegar turn the condiment into something spicy and fragrant. Jams also often contain pectin which creates a thick texture. Chutneys contain no added pectin and can be chunky and full of pieces of dried fruit and raisins, or they can be blended until smooth.

Chutney vs Relish

Chutney and relish are very similar, and there's a longstanding debate about the differences between the two. Both condiments are made with chopped vegetables, vinegar, and added spices. Typically, chutney has a softer consistency and contains a variety of fruit pieces. Relish usually contains one type of vegetable and no fruit.

Tomato Chutney Recipe

bowl of chunky chutney with a spoon

Instead of serving plain ketchup, try a zesty tomato chutney with your burgers and french fries. This recipe makes 8 servings.

Ingredients

  • 8 tomatoes chopped into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 green chilies finely chopped with seeds removed
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Add the olive oil to a saute pan over medium heat
  2. Add the spices, chilies, and garlic to the pan and cook for one minute
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, and salt
  4. Simmer the ingredients over medium heat, uncovered, for about 20 minutes

Now you should be ready to experiment with your own chutney recipes! Use local, seasonal produce to create chutneys that complement the dishes on your menu.

By Michale Ferguson
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