Chutney (Devanagari- “चटनी” also transliterated chatney or chatni, Sindhi: چٽڻي) is a side dish in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent that can vary from a tomato relish to a ground peanut garnish or a yoghurt, cucumber and mint dip.
The word “chutney” is derived from the Hindi word chatṭnī, meaning to lick. It is written differently in North and South Indian languages (Nepali: चटनी, Gujarati: ચટણી, Bengali: চাটনি, Marathi: चटणी, Punjabi: ਚਟਣੀ, Tamil: சட்டினி chaṭṭiṉi, காரத் துவையல் karathuvaiyal, Kannada: ಚಟ್ನಿ, Hindi: चटनी, Urdu: چٹنی, Sindhi: چٽڻي, Malayalam: ചട്ടിണി, chattin̩i, ചമ്മന്തി, Telugu: పచ్చడి). Pacchadi, as written in Telugu script, refers specifically to pickled fruits, whilst chutney refers to minced foods, usually made out of coconuts.
In India, “chutney” refers to fresh and pickled preparations indiscriminately. Several Indian languages use the word for fresh preparations only. A different word achār (Hindi: अचार) applies to pickles that often contain oil and are rarely sweet.
Similar in preparation and usage to a pickle, simple spiced chutneys can be dated to 500 BC. Originating in India, this method of preserving food was subsequently adopted by the Romans and later British empires, who then started exporting this to the colonies, Australia and North America.
As greater imports of foreign and varied foods increased into northern Europe, chutney fell out of favor. This combined with a greater ability to refrigerate fresh foods and an increasing amount of glasshouses meant chutney and pickle were relegated to military and colonial use. Chutney reappeared in India around the 1780s as a popular appetizer.
Diego Álvarez Chanca brought back chili peppers from the Americas to Spain in 1493. He had sailed with Columbus. After discovering their medicinal properties, Chanca developed a chutney to administer them.
In the early 17th century, British colonization of the Indian subcontinent relied on preserved food stuffs such as lime pickles, chutneys and marmalades. (Marmalades proved unpopular due to their sweetness and a lack of available sugar.)
Beginning in the 17th century, fruit chutneys were shipped to European countries like England and France as luxury goods. These imitations were called “mangoed” fruits or vegetables, the word ‘chutney’ still being associated with the lower working classes.
Major Grey’s Chutney is thought to have been developed by a British officer who had traveled to India. The formula was eventually sold to Crosse and Blackwell, a major British food manufacturer, probably in the early 1800s. In the 19th century, types of chutney like Major Grey’s or Bengal Club created for Western tastes were shipped to Europe from Monya.
Generally these chutneys are fruit, vinegar, and sugar cooked down to a reduction.
The tradition of chutney-making spread through the English-speaking world, especially in the Caribbean and American South, where chutney is a popular condiment for ham, pork, and fish.
LINKS TO OTHER SITES ABOUT CHUTNEYS AND RECIPES