CHUTNEY

Various wild game recipes call for chutney as a compliment. When we were doing the craft circuit with our jams, jellies, salsa, etc. I had people ask if we had chutney (which we did), what it was, and how to use it. With this post and the next I’ll put forth some of my thoughts on chutney.

Chutney or relish? What’s the difference?

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 spice-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. Chutneys perks up cheeses and sweeter varieties 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 condiments terms. The confusion is understandable. Chutney 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 hundred, 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 flavors 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.

Chutney tips and hints – next post

Keep your fork

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