I have been asked several times WHAT is the difference between a Chutney and a Relish?
The definitive answer for me is still on the back burner; some believe a Chutney is a fruit based compote that borders on the sweet side, while a Relish should be tart, spicy or savoury. If you look at Indian cuisine (the word for Chutney originates from the Sanskrit word caṭnī, meaning “to lick”), these condiments often have fruit – yet always add a spicy or savoury note with chillies or pungent herbs. Here in North America we tend to think of Relish as the florescent green glop that one puts on burgers and hotdogs and Chutney as a sweet jam-like accompaniment often made from mangoes or sweet fruit.
Both condiment recipes I have chosen here are very different from one another. The Chutney offers a sweet yet savoury flavour and the Sweet Relish a tart, fresh and tangy one. The Coconut Chutney’s Indian flavours go well with grilled meats or vegetables and the Sweet Pickle Relish is a play on our ballpark favourite. Both will last in your refrigerator for a week in an air tight container with no preserving required. Each very easy to prepare from fresh ingredients. Try both to see which you prefer or which is which for that matter. I say whether called Chutney or Relish they are both condiments that taste great!
Similar in preparation and usage to a pickle, simple spiced Chutneys can be dated as far back as 500 BC. Originating in Northern Europe, 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 America. As greater imports of foreign and varied foods increasing into Northern Europe the Chutney fell out of favour. 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. The British Royal Navy used 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.) During this time fruit Chutneys became popular and were shipped to countries like England and France as luxury goods. These imitations were called “mangoed” fruits or vegetables, as the word ‘Chutney’ still retained it’s association with the lower working class
A delicious Coconut chutney
- 1 cup grated coconut
- 2 small green chillies (chopped)
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp roasted chick peas ground
- salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
- 1 whole Red Chilli (broken into pieces)
- 2 – 3 Leaves Curry (Sweet Neem)
- 1 tsp Oil
- Put the coconut, green chillies, ginger, roasted ground chick peas and salt in a blender with a little water and grind to make a fine paste. Keep aside.
- Prepare the tempering by heating the oil and adding mustard seeds, red chilli and curry leaves stirring till the mustard seeds crackle. Pour this tempering over the chutney and mix well
- Refrigerate and use as required.
Chutneys and Relishes are very easy to make and once you understand the technique behind achieving the roundness and balance in sweet vs. acidic the world of fresh condiments is yours for the taking. Most soft flesh fruits and vegetables work great and the choice between sweet and savoury is endless.
Sweet Pickle Relish
A delicious Sweet Pickle Relish
- 3 large Cucumbers
- 1 small Sweet Onion
- 2 tbsp Kosher Salt
- 1/2 cup White Vinegar
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- 1 clove Garlic (Minced)
- 1/4 tsp Dill Seed
- 1/4 tsp Mustard Seed
- 1/4 tsp Celery Seed
- 1/8 tsp Turmeric (optional)
- Finely dice cucumber and onion. lace in glass or plastic bowl sprinkle with salt and let sit 2 hours.
- Drain in strainer pressing to remove any excess liquid in cucumber.
- In medium pot add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
- Add cucumber & onion blend to mixture bring to a boil once more and remove from heat.
- Let stand until room temperature then place into a glass mason jar for maximum flavour. Will keep for up to one month in refrigerator.