What exactly is chutney and where does it come from? Chutney is a relish of various fresh fruits, herbs, and spices that originated in northern India over 2,000 years ago in the form of a sauce or paste made from fresh fruits, herbs, and spices. This was a drastic difference from the preserved and chunky condiment we find today. After it was adopted by the Romans and then the British, it took on a different form.

According to streetdirectory.com:

“Many people believe chutneys to be an English invention. In fact, the dish originates from Northern India and England, as many people erroneously believe. Indeed, the word ‘chutney’ itself is a corruption of the Indian chatni. It’s derived from he word chatna which literally means ‘to lick’ and represents the lip-smacking sound made on eating something tasty (such as a chutney is meant to be).

Typically, the original Indian chatni is made from a mix of uncooked fruit (such as mangoes, apples, bananas etc), green chillies, green herbs and spices, an acid base such as vinegar or tamarind juice and sometimes sugar ground together to make a paste. Indian chatnis are fresh and intended to be consumed soon after they are made.

This basic chatni recipe was brought back to Britain during the 18th Century where it was adapted as a way of preserving the surpluses resulting from the autumn harvest of fruit and vegetables. As a result the original recipes were adapted to become more of a spicy preserve or condiment where the fruit or vegetables could be preserved over winter by cooking in vinegar and sugar and flavoured with spices before being bottled.”

Chutney is a great way to use fruits and vegetables on the edge of expiration and it makes a bland meal pop.