You’ve probably noticed chutneys becoming more popular locally on restaurant menus and sold as a condiment at many local stores. Chutney originated from South Asian and Indian cuisine and usually consists of a mixture of spices and vegetables and/or fruits – the options are practically endless.

Though chutneys can be wet or dry, they are more often seen wet in North America, similar to any other type of pickled condiment (like relishes) and can be either sweet or savoury, depending on the flavours you combine in the chutney.

Vinegar or citrus juice can be added as a natural preservative in the chutney if you plan to keep it rather than using it right away, or you can ferment it with salt to create the acid.

Traditionally, chutney was a widely used accompaniment to various types of meat, including ham and other types of pork and fish. But, you can use chutney on top of melted brie to spread on crackers or crostini, as a type of salsa dip for tortilla chips, or as an accompaniment to Indian cuisine as a sweet, cooling complement to the hot and spicy food.

Whatever you decide to do with chutney, it’s a great item to show off to dinner guests – it’s exotic and flavourful but is not too difficult to put together. If you can make salsa or other types of preserves, like jam, you can make chutney. Try one of our favourite recipes for tamarind banana chutney – it’s a bit sweet, it’s a bit spicy, it’s a lot tasty!

Tamarind Banana Chutney

Ingredients

1 piece of tamarind, size of clementine
3 tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. sambal olek
3 bananas, diced

Instructions

  • Soak tamarind overnight in 2/3 of a cup of hot water in a non-metallic container.
  • Break up the tamarind lump and strain through mesh strainer. Use a wooden spoon to push through the mesh.
  • Combine with all other ingredients.
  • Allow the sugar to dissolve. Enjoy!

Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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