(Last Updated on : 06/01/2009)
Chutney is an expression applied to a host of spicy savours and condiments in Indian art of cookery. The term itself is an anglicised form of the Hindi word chatni. In India, there is a connoted indirect understanding that these preparations are also freshly made from refreshing ingredients. Chutney, as a genre, is often similar to the Indian pickle. For instance, chutneys using nutmeg are prepared only when nutmeg is in season, although chutneys can be prepared from an extensive array of ingredients and hence representing umpteen types of flavours and textures. On the whole, chutneys can be classified into two distinct categories: freshly-made preparations for right away consumption and cooked preparations intended to preserve as long as a year, which can be clubbed further according to their saltiness, sweetness, tartness, or spiciness. Many chutney recipes combine several elements of these basic flavors. Textures in chutneys range from roughly chopped preserves to smooth sauces.
The use of a stone mortar and pestle is often looked at as a vital tool to create an ideal chutney. It comprises a small stone bowl (called a "kharal" or "khal" in Hindi), or a flat piece of stone (called a "sil") on which the ingredients are mashed together with a rounded stick of stone or wood (called a "batta").
Some of the rather common chutneys in India are those prepared with mangoes, coconut, sesame, peanuts, or the crunched leaves of herbs, particularly mint or coriander. Chutneys are served as condiments (side dishes) in Indian meals and historically were only eaten on special occasions like weddings or by the economically affluent. Since Indian independence in 1947, the technology of canning in glass jars has today made commercial chutneys extensively available throughout the country at reasonable prices. Traditional cooked chutneys made for home consumption were generally tinctured or slowly cooked in the sun over a period of several days, until they achieved the right flavour and uniformity. This method is still used in modern India in homes which do not make use of stoves.
Chutney styles are strikingly different in various parts of the country, with their own version and also differentiated among different religious groups. The various flavours and textures are of singular importance to Hindus. A few of these are worth mentioning, like: mango, plum, apple and apricot chutneys and various murabbas (fruit in thick syrup) from West Bengal
; garlic, sweet and sour mango and peanut chutney from Uttar Pradesh
; dry fish, shrimp, and onion chutney from Kerala
; pork sepotel and shrimp ballachong from Goa; kanji, tomato and jeera chutney from Punjab
; tamarind chutney from Haryana
; hot mango chutney, guramba, and panchamrit from Maharashtra; chundo and hot lime chutneys from Gujarat; guava and eggplant chutneys from Himachal Pradesh
fish chutney. The innumerable Jain, Parsi, and Sindhi chutneys defined by religious dietary restrictions also come into the delicious list of Indian chutneys. In fact, the murabbas (also written as morabbas) evolved out of the Unani system of medicine and owe their origin to Indian bonding with the Arab world.
The first Indian chutneys to reach the West apparently were imported as extravagant goods in England and France during the late 1600s. They were mostly mango chutneys doused in sticky syrups and shipped in ceramic pots. These extravagant goods soon served as exemplars for Western copies which came out in cookbooks as "mangoed" fruit or vegetables. The most accepted replacements were unripe peaches or melons. However, by the 19th century, several chutneys were manufactured in India specifically for exporting to Europe. Among them stands out the Lucknow Chutney (a purée of salted limes) and various branded chutneys like Major Grey`s or Bengal Club.
The word `chutney` is deduced from the synonymous Persian chashni which had its origins from Middle Persian Pahlavi of cashnik, sharing the same source with other Persian words like chasht, standing for a portion of food.
Indian variation of chutneys can be reliably personified to redefine vastness and colossal in matters of taste and smell. The thick or loose kinds in chutneys that comes from every Indian state, is simply incredible, if one ever has the opportunity to taste each one meticulously. The immense types of chutneys
grouped under the abstract Indian food and cookery section reflects expertise of native kitchens and the secret art employed to create a masterpiece.
Mouth watering as they always are, chutneys, just like any other Indian recipe have another side of healthiness, with nutrition speaking out from every angle. For example, chutneys generally use vegetarian ingredients, which mostly lend food value to the consumer. Chutneys possess medicinal properties, going the naturopathy way. Ayurveda is one such medicinal wing, which is known to minimise and tone down several intestinal diseases. Chutneys are at times recommended to be prepared with ingredients that might be helpful to Ayurvedic needs for curing. It is also known that pitta dosha
, a common intestinal problem, can successfully be eliminated by consuming chutneys rich in Ayurvedic properties. Hence, Ayurvedic Pickles
and chutneys, Ayurvedic Coriander chutney
, Ayurvedic Coconut Chutney, Ayurvedic Mint chutney
and Ayurvedic Tomato chutney
are useful in the long run to lead a healthy lifestyle, even though one is consuming unhealthy food. Indian chutneys and its methods of preparation employing nutritious vegetables or fruits make up a significant get-well prescription in ayurvedic dietary.