Chutney Recipes and Cooking Tips

Chutney or relish? What's the difference?

Plum chutney
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Although chutney is most widely known as a condiment originating in India, the concept has spread worldwide and mutated to suit local needs as most foods do. The term chutney comes from the East Indian chatni, meaning "strongly spiced," and is described as a condiment which usually consists of a mix of chopped fruits, vinegar, spices and sugar cooked into a chunky spread. Most chutneys are on the spicy-hot side, but it's easy to adjust the heat factor if you make your own.

Chutneys are traditionally served with curried foods. The sweet and tart flavor combined with a touch of spice compliments strong-flavored meats such as wild game, but also works well with beef, pork, and chicken. Chutney perks up cheeses and sweeter versions make a fabulous spread for crackers and breakfast toast or bagels.

The difference between chutney and relish

Chutney and relish are often used interchangeably as condiment terms. The confusion is understandable. Chutneys can be savory, and relishes can be sweet. In general, chutneys have a chunky spreadable consistency much like a preserve, whereas relishes are hardly cooked, use less sugar if any, and are more crunchy to the bite.

Using chutney

There are hundreds, if not thousands of possible combinations of ingredients for chutney. Most chutneys have a fruit base, but many non-sweet vegetables can also be used. Once you get the basic concept down, you can experiment with any number of fruits and/or vegetables. Use firm-fleshed, under-ripe fruits such as green mangos, bananas, peaches, apples, nectarines, and apricots. Rhubarb and firm or under-ripe tomatoes are also good candidates. Soft fruits with delicate flavors such as raspberries, strawberries, and others will cook down into more of a smooth jam and their flavor will be lost. Dried fruits work particularly well in chutneys since they retain their texture, yet contribute a tart flavor offset by the sugar and spices.

More Chutney Recipes:

Chutney tips and hints

  • Most common chutney spices: ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom.
  • Most common chutney fruits: raisin, mango, tamarind, citrus fruit, apricot, peach.
  • Most common herbs: coriander, mint.
  • Most chutneys will contain some onion and many also include garlic.
  • Mix chutney with cream cheese, sour cream or creme fraiche for a cracker spread or fruit dip.
  • Mix chutney with a bit of olive oil and use it as a quick marinade or glaze for meats.
  • Keep in mind that the sugar in chutney will caramelize. Add the final glaze when the meat is nearly done to avoid charring and flare-ups on the grill.
  • When using a chutney mixture as a marinade, be sure to boil it again and cool before using it as a glaze.
  • Mix with homemade or packaged mayonnaise for accenting cold meats or poultry.
  • Most chutneys will last weeks in the refrigerator due to the acid/vinegar content. If you wish to preserve them, be sure to use recommended instructions for canning in a water bath, usually 10 minutes in sterilized jars.
  • Use non-reactive pots when making chutneys. The acid in the mixtures will react to iron, copper, and brass causing discoloration and pitting to the pot and imparting a metallic taste to the chutney.
  • Wooden spoons or plastic utensils are recommended for the same reasons as non-reactive pots.


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