Making the Perfect Chutney — May 23, 2021

Making the Perfect Chutney

While we’re on the topic of mango and Indian food, there is no way that I could even think about not bringing up mango chutney…the standard Indian condiment…as standard to that cuisine as ketchup…(or catsup…really, people(?!))is to ours here in America.

The word “chutney” derives from the Hindi word meaning ‘to lick’ or ‘to eat with appetite’…and the Hindi people must really have a great appetite for chutney because in India, chutney is as common as ketchup is here in America. They served chutney a dipping sauce for naan, a condiment for curry, spread it on toast…kinda like vegemite and Australia.

Chutneys have actually been concocted as far back as 500BC….where the people in India began to grind down any medicinal plants, plants that they believed to have health benefits, into chutneys…adding spices to the ground down plants…making a wet paste with the mixture…and sauteeing it in oil…in order to keep the overabundance of fruits and veggies from going bad…

But first of all…what exactly is chutney…and what’s the difference between a relish, a chutney, a marmalade…


Chutney…The What


Chutney are savory condiments that can be made from a variety of fruits and veggies—such as coconut, mango, tamarind, apples, rhubarb—that have been slow-cooked along with vinegar and spices.

The idea of making chutney originated in India, but over the centuries has expanded to the point where today almost every country has its own interpretation of this versatile condiment.

Chutneys found in India typically consist of roasted dried lentils, spices—such as coriander, ginger, garlic and cumin, dates, coconut, onions, prunes, tomatoes, chili peppers, limes, mango, and peanuts.

Chutneys from South Africa feature apricots.

Chutneys from England feature apples and vinegar.


Chutney or Jam


Chutney differs from jam because jams and jellies are sweet…while chutney is savory because of the spices and vinegar that have been added to the fruit.

Recipes for jams often require pectin in order to creates a thick texture….whereas chutney recipes never call for added pectin.

Chutney is typically chunky and full of pieces of dried fruit and raisins whereas jams are typically blended until smooth.


Chutney or Relish


The difference between chutney and relish are not as clear. Perhaps the main difference is the fact that chutneys combine various fruits…whereas relishes typically focus on one primary ingredient.


Making Chutney


You can easily make your own chutneys by slow-cooking fruit or vegetables with other ingredients—such as garlic, chil peppers, and vinegar. Then you can use your chutney as a unique, flavorful condiment served along various entrees and appetizers that your guests will be sure to remember.


Types of Chutney


As talked about briefly earlier, once the concept of making chutneys found its way out of India and into other countries and regions around the world, this condiment came to no longer be a recipe, but a conglomeration of any and all sorts of ingredients…more of a concept, rather than an actual recipe.

Today perhaps the four most common chutneys are Major Grey’s Chutney, mango chutney, mint chutney, and tomato chutney.


Major Grey’s Chutney


Major Grey’s Chutney…This type of chutney is very similar to mango chutney, but milder…and with two more key ingredients—raisins and lime juice. Typical ingredients of Major Grey’s chutney include mango, raisins, vinegar, lime juice, onion…some sort of sweetener…and some blend of spices.

Supposedly the recipe for this variety of chutney was first created by a British Army officer…(probably named Major Grey…go figure)…and is the most popular type of chutney here in America today.

Two brands of Major Grey’s Mango available for sale in the US and Canada are Patak’s, Sharwood’s and Crosse & Blackwell…(the last of which if owned by Smucker.

  • 5 firm mango, about 3C
  • 1C sugar, brown sugar, or other sweetener
  • 1C vinegar—apple cider or white
  • 1C seedless raisins
  • Fruits/Veggies—2 small onions, chopped fine…1/3C cup fresh ginger, grated or chopped fine…1/2″ piece Mexican lime, little, thin skin…3/4″ piece serrano chile, small…one large onion, chopped
  • Spices…
  • 1tsp each—salt, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • Other…
  • 1/2C slivered almonds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard 
  • Peel mangoes. Cut into 1/2″ segments. Put the vinegar in a heavy kettle. Tie the spices in a muslin bag large enough to allow swelling. Add this bag of spices and sugar. Simmer gently 30min, stirring often. Add fruits/veggies/other and half of the mango. Simmer two hours, stirring and watching carefully. Add the rest of the mangoes. Simmer two more hours. Remove the spice bag. Pour mixture into hot sterilized jars. Seal. Let set in a cool place for several weeks before using. This chutney can be kept for years.


Mango Chutney


Mango Chutney…Mango chutney is very similar to Major Grey’s chutney, but milder and sweeter. Here is Alton Brown’s recipe for mango chutney…

4# fresh mangos, peeled

3Tbsp vegetable oil

Spices…1tsp chili powder…1-1/2Tbsp curry powder…salt and pepper

Fruits/Veggies…1/4C minced fresh ginger…1C red bell pepper, diced…1/2Craisins

Other…8oz unsweetened pineapple juice…4oz cider vinegar…1/2C brown sugar…1/2C macadamia nuts, roughly chopped and toasted

Cube the mango. Heat the oil in skillet. Add spices, onion, and bell pepper. Saute 2min. Add mango. Cook for one more minute. Combine pineapple juice, vinegar, sugar, and curry powder in a separate bowl. Add this mixture to the skillet. Stir to combine. Simmer for about thirty minutes, stirring frequently. Add raisins and nuts. Season with salt and pepper.


Mint Chutney


  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1-½C fresh mint leaves
  • 1 green chile pepper
  • ½tsp salt
  • 1 medium onion, cut into chunks 
  • 1Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼C water
  • Combine cilantro, mint leaves, chile pepper, salt, onion and lemon juice. Process to a fine paste, adding enough water to achieve a thick sauce.


Tomato Chutney


Instead of serving plain ketchup, try a zesty tomato chutney with your burgers and french fries…such as the following recipe…

  • 8 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2C apple cider vinegar
  • 2Tbsp olive oil
  • Spices…2 garlic cloves, minced…1tsp cumin…1tsp cumin…1 tsp dry mustard…1/2tsp turmeric…1tsp chili powder…2Tbsp brown sugar…1/4tsp salt
  • Fruits/Veggies…2 green chilies, finely chopped with seeds removed
  • Add the olive oil to a saute pan over medium heat. Add spices, chilies, and garlic. Cook for one minute. Stir in the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Simmer over medium heat, uncovered, for about twenty minutes.
Kimchi—The What Else—Gochujang — December 25, 2018

Kimchi—The What Else—Gochujang

Another well-known Korean specialty ingredient to look for while surfing Korean websites or walking through an Asian market is gochujang.

Gochujang is a dark red chili paste with a savory, sweet, and spicy flavor and a thick and sticky texture.

This fermented condiment is made from the following ingredients…

  1. Red Chili Powder…This chili powder is made from Korean chili peppers that are spicy yet sweet, providing a healthy amount of lingering heat that’s not burn-your-mouth spicy.
  2. Glutinous Rice Powder…This is what gives gochuchang its touch of sweetness. This rice powder can also be substituted with normal short-grain rice, barley, whole wheat kernels, jujubes, pumpkin, and sweet potato. A small amount of sweetener—such as sugar, syrup, or honey—is also sometimes added.
  3. Meju (fermented soybean) powder
  4. Yeotgireum (barley malt powder)
  5. Salt

Making gochuchang is a long and arduous task that involves fermenting the mixture for years in earthenware vessels called “jangdok” on an elevated stone platform, called a “jangdokdae” in the backyard. That’s the reason that I’m not adding a recipe for it.

Instead buy it from reputable sources such as Chung Jung One or Momofuku.

Tips For Choosing Gochujang

  • Add a teaspoonful at a time. A little goes a long way because of its spiciness.
  • Check the package before purchasing to see how hot it is, kinda like buying salsa.
  • Keep an eye open when searing or grilling meats that have been marinated with gochujang that contains sugar because the meat will have a tendency to burn easily.
  • Look for gochujang that only contains the above ingredients…no corn syrup, starch syrup or hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
  • Look for it to be  sold in small, red square tubs.
  • Store in the fridge once you open it.
  • Thin your gochujang with a liquid of some sort–such as sesame oil, crushed garlic, sugar, soy sauce—because the thick texture of gochujang makes it a bit difficult to use straight up.
  • Unlike sriracha or Tabasco, gochujang is too aggressive to be used as a finishing sauce.

Uses for Gochujang

Butter…Gochuchang can be paired with “everyday” foods—such as steak, tacos, and burgers. One way of doing this is to make your own gochuchang butter.

Marinade…Another common use is as a marinade for meat…such as this bulgogi recipe from Crazy Korean Cooking.

Sauces…Gochuchang can also be used in condiments, salad dressings, and dipping sauces…such as Ssamjang, a thick, spicy paste made from gochujang, sesame oil, onion, garlic, green onions, and optionally brown sugar….as in this recipe from Fine Cooking.

Stews and Soups…One of the most common uses of gochujang is by the spoonful to add depth to stews and soups and stews…such as this Gochuchang Soup from Little Corner of Mine.