Chutney: what it is, where it comes from and seven tips for using it best

by Redazione Fine Taste

This week we're talking about a condiment not used much in our cuisine, Chutney.

What is Chutney?

Chutney is a savory condiment made from slow-cooked fruit or vegetables, vinegar and spices. Originating in India, chutneys have traveled the world and each country has its own interpretation of this versatile condiment. For example, South African chutneys often include apricots, while British chutneys favor the use of apples. Indian chutneys can be made with a wide variety of ingredients, including coconut, mint, peanuts, mango, tamarind and a blend of exotic spices.

How is Chutney used?

One thing all chutneys have in common is that 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 sauce for naan, the classic Indian bread reminiscent of our Romagna tigella, as a condiment for curry or even to be spread on toast to add explosions of concentrated flavour. They have a very wide range of uses, as we will see below.

How is Chutney prepared?

Chutneys are made by slowly cooking fruits or vegetables with ginger, garlic and chili peppers. Spices and vinegar are added to preserve the chutney and give it a spicy flavor.

Types of Chutney

After chutneys crossed the borders of India, each country has put its own twist on this popular condiment. For this reason, you can find chutneys made with a very different variety of ingredients.

The following represent just some of the most popular types of chutneys:

Mango Chutney - One of the most common styles of chutney, made with 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 differs in the addition of raisins and lime juice;

Mint Chutney - This chutney is common as an accompaniment to Indian samosas and contains fresh mint, fresh coriander and green chilies;

Tomato Chutney – Chutney made mostly with tomatoes, chillies and garlic.

Difference between chutney and jam

The main difference between chutney and jam is that jam is sweet while chutney is savory. Chutneys can be made with sweet ingredients like fruit, but the added spices and vinegar transform the condiment into something tangy and fragrant. Jams also often contain pectin which creates a thick consistency. Chutneys contain no added pectin and may have a rough texture with prominent pieces of dried fruit and raisins, or they may be smooth after being blended.

Here are seven tasty ways to make sure you're making the most of your chutney.

1. Indian style curry chutney

The classic tip for purists is to simply pour a few spoonfuls of chutney straight from the jar and serve alongside any curry recipe. This is the function for which chutney was born.

2. Chutney combined with cream cheese

A quick and easy way to prepare a delicious and particular appetizer.

Simply spread some soft cheese on a slice of bread or cracker and add some chutney. A combination that will surprise you and your guests.

3. Chutney as a sauce to flavor your sandwiches

Mix together equal parts chutney and mayonnaise. Spread on the bread and add the main sandwich ingredient of your choice. Remember that chutney goes particularly well with ham and cheese.

4. Grilled cheese with a touch of chutney

Again a simple and tasty appetizer. Spread a layer of chutney on a slice of bread or cracker and garnish with thin slices of cheese. A sharp cheese such as gorgonzola or other blue cheese is a good choice. Heat the sandwich or crackers in the oven until the cheese melts. Serve hot.

5. To accompany lamb and game meats

The chutney pairs beautifully with the rich flavors of game and lamb, but also with duck and other flavored meats. Simply spread a little chutney over the meat just before serving.

6. Chutney “Pesto”.

Blend the chutney and a handful of fresh parsley together in equal parts. Season with salt and use the resulting mixture to accompany tortillas or chips.

7. Winter Squash Chutney

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Peel the pumpkin and remove the seeds. Cut it into coarse pieces. Spread a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray. In a bowl, mix the pumpkin pieces and chutney, using approximately one tablespoon of chutney for one kilogram of pumpkin. Transfer to the pan and spread into an even layer. Roast until squash is cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Potatoes can easily be used instead of pumpkin.

As you may have noticed, there are countless combinations that this condiment can offer.

We want to offer you the chutneys of a small company from Molise, which has courageously invested resources and time in the creation of chutneys that hark back to tradition but with a touch of Italian style. They will surprise you. Find their products here.