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Cardamom Hills Trading Company Blog

September 21, 2015

A conversation about chutney

Description of Chutney from Wikipedia:

The word "chutney" derives from the Sanskrit word caṭnī, meaning to lick.

Chutney ( Hindi - "चटनी" also transliterated chatney or chatniSindhi: چٽڻي‎) is a family of condiments associated withSouth Asian cuisine made from a highly variable mixture of spicesvegetables, or fruit.

As with other condiments such as relish or mustard, chutneys are based on a wide range of recipes and preparation methods,[1] they vary widely by geography, they can range from a wet to dry—or coarse to fine—and they can be combined with a wide variety of foods or used for dipping.

Preserving Culture – Preserving Our Heritage

Similar in preparation and usage to a pickle, simple spiced chutneys can be dated as far back as 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 increasing into Northern Europe the 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 also appeared in India around the 1780s as a popular appetizer

Diego Álvarez Chanca brought back chili peppers from the Americas. After discovering their medicinal properties, Chanca developed a chutney to administer them. This coincided with the British Royal Navy's use of a lime pickle or chutney to ward off scurvy on journeys to the new world.

In the early 17th century, British colonization of the Indian subcontinent relied on preserved food stuffs such as lime pickles, chutneys and marmalades. (Marmalades proving 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 1800's.[6] In the 19th century, types of chutney like Major Grey's or Bengal Club created for Western tastes were shipped to Europe.

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 still a popular condiment for ham, pork, and fish.