In keeping with the whole British colonial heritage story [See HERE and HERE for more], here’s a change of continents. From Africa to the Indian subcontinent.


Etymologically, the word entered English via Urdu ( چٹنی ), Hindi ( चटनी — ca ), and  Bengali (চাটনী) .

chutney-major-greyChutney is chutney is Major Grey’s mango chutney. Yes and no. Chutney, introduced to Americans around 1850 by colonialists in the British Raj, is more than just mangoes. Or tomato catsup.  Or ketchup. Or any of the other thick, chunky sauces that go so well with so many different foods. In India, the home of chutney, chutney means anything from raw pickled onions to thick, cooked pungent tomato concoctions.

A little book, frustratingly out of print and not to be had any price until a seller lets loose, All About Indian Chutneys, Pickles and Preserves (Thacker, Spink & Co., undated), tells you all you need to know about these delectable condiments still relatively unknown outside of places influenced by the British (after 1776, that is):

Chutneys are of Indian origin and invention, and several kinds, for which the receipts are here given, are such as are taken by the natives of India, who find relish in them, the more spicy and pungent they are.

To suit the taste of Europeans, the amount of heating ingredients employed may be lessened to a considerable extent. Indeed, the proportion seems very capricious, and we believe that if the amount of chillies [sic] and gingerw ere reduced to a quarter of the quantity indicated, the chutney would prove more agreeable to a European palate, and even if it should be found otherwise, any deficiency might be easily remedied by adding more.

Chatni, if you want to get technically and linguistically correct, means “to taste”and that is what you can’t help doing. Once you have made some of these fabulously easy chutney recipes, eaten them with grilled meats and seafood or Indian-style curries, and enjoyed the added dimension they give to food, well, you’ll keep on making them.

And Major Grey just won’t cut it anymore.

[Hint: Store chutneys in clean jars in the refrigerator. Check recipes for safe storage times.]

chutney-tomato-1HOT TOMATO CHUTNEY
Makes 1 cup

1 pound medium-sized ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup peanut oil
1/2 t. cumin seeds
10 garlic cloves, peeled
8 hot green peppers, seeded, deveined, and chopped
1 t. cayenne pepper
2 t. paprika
1 t. salt
Coriander leaves, chopped (optional)

Heat oil and add cumin seeds. Fry for about 10 seconds and then add garlic and hot peppers. Fry 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes. Lower heat, add remaining ingredients, and continue cooking, uncovered, for about an hour. Chutney will be thick and the oil will have separated.

Serve chutney at room temperature. Stir in coriander leaves if desired. Chutney is good with grilled meats and fish and also as tortilla dip. Keep chutney refrigerated for 1 month.

chutney-tomato-2NOT-HOT TOMATO CHUTNEY
Makes 2 cups

2 pounds ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 t. whole fennel seeds
1/2 t. fenugreek seeds
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups sugar
10 garlic cloves, peeled, mashed, and minced
1/2 t. ground ginger
2 bay leaves
1/4 t. ground mace
1/2 t. garam masala
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1 t. salt or to taste
1/2 cup raisins

Grind the fennel and fenugreek seeds in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Put the vinegar in stainless steel pot, heat to boiling and add the tomatoes. Add the sugar and let it dissolve. Toss in the fennel, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, bay leaves, mace, garam masala, cayenne, and salt. Bring the pot to a boil, lower the heat, and continue cooking, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. Stir often to prevent sticking.

Stir in the raisins and cook for another half-hour.

When chutney is done, allow to cool for a few minutes, stir, and spoon into a 2-cup jar. Refrigerate. Stays fresh for 2 months.

chutney-apricotAPRICOT CHUTNEY
Makes 1 quart

1 pound dried apricots
12 large cloves garlic, mashed and minced
1 X 4-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cayenne pepper
1 cup raisins

Soak raisins in hot water to cover for 1 hour. Meanwhile, mash the garlic and ginger together in a mortar and pestle with 4 T. of the vinegar.

Add all the ingredients except the raisins, including apricot soaking water, to a stainless steel pot. Boil and then reduce the heat. Cook 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep chutney from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add raisins and cook for another half-hour. Chutney will look like a glaze.

Pour into clean jars and store in the refrigerator. Serve with roast pork or grilled meat. Keeps 2 months.

Cauliflower pakora with Cilantro Chutney
Photo credit: C. Bertelsen

Makes 1 1/2 cup

1 t. ground cumin
3 cups chopped coriander leaves
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, mashed and minced
2 T. fresh lime juice (lemon, if lime unavailable)
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup plain yogurt

Heat the cumin in a small skillet over high heat for 10 seconds. Remove from heat, pour into a blender or food processor, add all the remaining ingredients except the yogurt, and grind to a paste.

Stir the paste into the yogurt. Use with tortilla chips or with grilled beef kebabs and pita bread or with a curry. Keeps about 3 – 4 days.

© 2009 C. Bertelsen

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