The word chutney comes from the Indian word for
"chalni" which means, "strongly spiced" say some,
others that the word "chutney" derives from the Sanskrit
word can?, meaning "to lick".
There is a difference between pickles and chutneys.
Pickles are pieces of vegetables or fruit stored in vinegar. Chutneys
are mixtures of chopped vegetables and fruits cooked in vinegar. In
both cases it is the acid conditions produced by the vinegar which
inhibit the actions of spoiling micro-organisms.
Fresh chutneys do not contain preservatives as they
are generally eaten very soon. They may be refrigerated for about
three days. Some chutneys are also cooked. Chutneys contain different
fruits, onions, garlic, vinegars and spices. They generally have a
smooth to chunky jam-like consistency whereas pickles are generally
crisp and crunchy. Chutney may have a sweet-sour blend of flavours as
they can be highly spiced.
India is a vast country. Each state has a unique
language, topography and culture, making it distinguishable. Whether
it is Maharashtra or Karnataka, each state has not just one, but a
variety of different cuisines, each distinct and delicious.
Collectively, they make India one of the most interesting countries
from a food perspective. Not only are the dishes tasty, but the icing
on the cake are the accompaniments that add to the flavour on your plate.:
Kashmir - Muji chatin or mooli ki chutney is
a popular accompaniment in the northern most state of India. It is
prepared by stir-frying radish in mustard oil, lending it a pungent
taste. The addition of walnuts, Kashimiri chilli and lemon only
contributes to the complexity of flavours.
Punjab - Food from this state is a global
favourite and often represents what the world perceives as 'Indian
food'. But meals eaten in a Punjabi household may not usually include
the creamy daal makhani or popular sarson ka saag. What remains a
staple though is a delicious chutney prepared in the kitchens using
mint and onion. This pudine ki chutney is cooling and can be found in
any Punjabi household during summers. Usually made with a mortar and
pestle, it has a hint of sweetness too.
Gujarat - Gujaratis love their snacks. Well,
they love food in any form. And their indulgence is reflected through
the variety of chutneys on their thaali. An interesting one is the
gram flour-based chutney that accompanies fafdas, a common breakfast
in the region. The spicy raw papaya chutney and the garlic chutney
eaten with bajre ki roti have their fans too.
Maharashtra - Meanwhile, neighbouring
Maharashtra is not to be left behind. Whether it is the spicy garlic
chutney that lines vada pao or the absolutely delectable tilkoot (one
made with black sesame seeds), there is plenty to keep your palate
entertained. From another region within the state, Solapuri shenga, a
peanut-based condiment is worth a try too.
Tamil Nadu - At the other end of the
country, no Tamil meal is complete without an array of chutneys.
Snacks like idli or vada are served with coconut chutney. In
addition, the tangy tomato and onion-based thakkali chutney
complements a regular meal too. Like most dishes from this region,
the chutneys usually have a tempering of mustard seeds and curry leaves.
Kerala - Like Tamil Nadu, the abundance of
coconuts along the coast make it one of the key ingredients in dishes
from this state. No Keralite meal is complete without coconut-ginger
chutney. Various versions of this exist, the popular ones being with
tomatoes and the addition of onions.
Andhra Pradesh - One of the most unique
chutneys you may get to taste in India is gongura pachadi. Made with
red sorel leaves, garlic and chilli, it is usually eaten with rice.
West Bengal - Who doesn't love the delicious
mustard-based flavours that dominate food from West Bengal? But a
little known secret is the chutney that adds a zing to every meal
here. Called amsotto khejurer chutney(Aam ki chutney), it
predominantly consists of of dates and tangy aam papad. This sweet
and thick chutney is also prepared with the addition of tomatoes in
Nagaland - The food from each state in the
north-east is unique. Locals in Nagaland swear by nghe thu'um, made
with dried fermented fish, chillies and tomatoes. The use of bhut
jholakia, the hottest chilli in the world, makes it unpalatable for
people with milder tastes. Another popular chutney here is called
akhuni and is made with fermented soya beans blended with chillies,
ginger and salt.
Assam - The Assamese variation of the fish
chutney found in Nagaland is called xukan machor chutney. Made with
dried fish, tomato, potato and onion, it has a strong odour and
flavour and is popular with the tribal communities. A chutney made
with jalphai (Indian olives) is also seen in Assamese thalis as is
another spicy one made with the vitamin C rich kordoi (star fruit).
Many people choose to make their own chutney but
there are several excellent product available in most stores.
Renowned food writer and practitioner Mridula Baljekar has won a
Double Gold Star at the Great Taste Awards for her Spiced Rhubarb
Chutney. Best known chutney in UK is mango and here is Mridula's
Recipe By: Curry Lover's Cookbook; Mridula
Baljekar; Anness Publishing; ISBN 1 84215 799 X
1 bay leaves
5 cardamom pods
150 ml cider vinegar
2.5ml coriander seeds
3 firm green mangoes cut into chunks
1 garlic clove peeled and crushed
130 g light muscovado (brown) sugar
2.5cm piece fresh root ginger grated
1 small fresh red chilli split
Put the mango chunks into a pan.
Add the cider vinegar and cover.
Cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, then stir in
the remaining ingredients. (The cardamom pods must be bruised and the
coriander seeds crushed.)
Bring to the boil slowly, stirring.
Lower the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes
until the mixture is syrupy.
Leave to cool, then ladle into a hot sterilized jar
Leave to rest for 1 week before serving.