Chutney is similar in consistency to jelly, salsa or relish, and is used as a sweet and sour condiment. Usually made fresh, it can contain a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and spices. The ingredients are mixed together and then simmered slowly. While chutney is primarily sweet and sour, there can also be many variations of spices, often giving it a hot and spicy flavor.
Originating in India, chutney was imported from India to Western Europe in the 17th century. European reproductions of this condiment were often called "mangoed" fruits and vegetables, as one of the most common fruits used in the making of sweet chutney is the mango.
Like jams and jellies, chutney can be chunky or smooth. In India, spicy varieties are usually served with curry and often with cold meats and vegetables. Sweet chutney is a pleasant addition to bread or crackers and cheese, and can serve as a snack or small meal.
Some of the more popular ingredients for this condiment, in addition to mangoes, are limes, apples, peaches, plums, apricots, tomatoes, lemons and even coconuts. Additional spices may include cloves, garlic, cilantro, mustard, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne pepper, jalapenos, tamarind and mint. Chutney is so diverse that it can be made with only a few of these ingredients or several, to make a variety of flavors and styles.
Chutney is usually eaten fresh in its native India, but as it has been westernized, like many things, it is mass-produced and can be bought in nearly any supermarket in the western world. In the United States and Britain, offering chutney as a condiment is becoming nearly as popular as jam, relish and even ketchup. It can be served at a formal dinner as a condiment for a fancy meal, or at a casual picnic with tortilla chips or crackers. Whatever the occasion, it provides a tasty, sweet and sour treat that is sure to please.