Imagine eating your favourite savoury snacks or Idlis without the refreshing Pudina chutney or the Imli ki khatti meethi chutney. All your favourite snacks magically lose their charm without their divine essence. A quintessential element of every Indian meal, chutneys represent the age-old culture that never ceases to tickle your taste-buds. Their punchy and flavourful piquancy can revamp any bland dish with its tangy gusto!
Originating from the Hindi term Chatni, Chutneys can be either runny like the Pudina chutney used in sandwiches or jammy as the tamarind chutney in Dahi vadas. Depending on the unique regional and cultural appetite, chutneys can also be sweet, sour, sweet-and-sour, hot, hot-and-sour and hot-and-sweet, with the texture being either smooth or chewy.
Chutneys not only bring a titillating zest to the food, but they also promote easy digestion of accompanying snacks or meals. Although wet chutneys do not have a long shelf life, they can generally last from a week up to a month. Their dry counterparts, on the other hand, can be used for even longer periods if stored properly. Apart from its taste and other virtues, chutney is also a good way to preserve fruits or vegetables in their season when they are fresh and available in plenty.
Although chutneys have gained a lot of reputation in the world, in India, that’s just the tip of the chutney iceberg. Here is the list of the classic chutneys that can be used to balance an array of dishes, or highlight a specific flavour profile:
The Racy Date Tamarind Chutney
Notoriously popular for the addictive zing of tamarind and the sugary divinity of dates, Imli ki chutney is also known as Saunth Chutney in various parts of India. Its balanced flavours and smooth texture make the date tamarind chutney the hero of every Indian Chaat. Its sublime taste is often paired with the goodness of Indian nibbles like Samosas as a dip or used as sandwich spreads.
The Versatile Coriander Mint Chutney
Predominantly used as the tantalizing counterpart of the Imli chutney for chaat, the aromatic coriander mint chutney is an integral part of meals throughout the country. Often paired with tandoori delicacies like Tikkas and Kebabs and Indian snacks like chaats and dosas, the mint chutney is also known to aid digestion as it is full of vitamins and flavonoids. Adding a little curd to this chutney gives it a creamy, silky texture while enhancing the tartness of the dip.
The Passionate Red Chilli Garlic Chutney
This unique combination of dry red chillies and intense garlic is a go-to chutney of every ardent spice lovers taste buds. This fiery yet delicious chutney is a must-have condiment in many south Indian households while it’s used as a dip in various other parts. Served with snacks or even the main course of your choice, this fiery hot chutney can also be used as a spread for sandwiches and chaats.
The Luscious Mint Chutney
The luxuriously herbaceous mint chutney gets its blissful taste from the ample mint leaves and the spicy green chillies. The coriander leaves add an additional dimension to its flavour as well as helps bring down strong aroma of mint and making it more palatable. Generally served with enticing tandoor snacks like tikkas and dhoklas, the mint chutney acts as the yin to the yang of the tamarind chutney in chaats. It can also be used as an ingredient in many Indian snacks preparations and enjoyed as spicy condiment in lunch or dinner.
The Saucy Tomato Chutney
A nuanced version of ketchup, tomato chutney is an elemental condiment in every South Indian pantry. A delightful infusion of spicy, tangy and sweet flavours, the Tomato Chutney has a distinctive warm aroma. The tartness of the tomatoes and the tempered oil makes this chutney and South Indian Dishes like idlis and dosa a match made in heaven.
The Nutty Peanut Chutney
Originating from the land of spice loving folks of South India, the peanut chutney is a handy condiment in the kitchens of the south. This gritty, dry chutney is infused with the crunch of roasted peanuts and the mild flavours of curry leaves, tamarind and garlic. It’s texture and the spicy kick makes this dry chutney a perfect addon to the usual breakfast dishes like idlis, dosas or steamed rice with ghee.
The Wholesome Coconut Chutney
The perfect sidekick for every South Indian Breakfast, the creamy coconut chutney has divergent variations throughout the Indian Subcontinent. The lush, grated coconut infused with the oil tempered curry leaves and mustard seeds make this chutney a perfect accompaniment for other breakfast dishes like upma, pakodas and vadas.
The Blazing Gun-Powder Chutney
Also known as Molaha Podi, the gun-power chutney is the true South India’s Spice Hero. While it gets its nickname from the fiery taste, its texture is inspired by the roasted lentils. This dry chutney is traditionally enjoyed with idlis, dosas, or uttapams and sambar. Just a tiny sprinkle of this chutney is the cheat code to add that zing and heat to your plate!
The Zesty Raw Mango Chutney
This super delicious and tantalizing chutney is the go-to accompaniment to most Indian meals. This caramelized mango chutney is infused with aromatic spices to give it the perfect sweet-sour-spice balance. This jammy chutney can be relished with vegetables and Paratha, Thepla or as a spread oven-toasted bread. Talk about drool-worthy and healthy ways of beating the heat.
The tradition of making chutneys is a deeply rooted culture of every Indian household. While for some it’s a memory of the summer spent in the countryside with their grandmom’s stories, the others resort to the chutneys to embark on a nostalgic, flavorful adventure – and despite everything, perfecting the art of homemade chutneys can be a long process. So, the next time you are walking down the aisles of that supermarket pick up a pack of the authentic and homestyle Mother’s Recipe chutneys to get a taste of this divine tradition.