The History of Chutneyshungrezi_admin
One of the dishes that almost every Indian is familiar with, irrespective of geographical or cultural differences, is the evergreen chutney. Did you know that chutneys have been around for over 2000 years? This trusted condiment that we’ve been using all our lives to make any bland meal pop has its own elaborate history.
The name chutney, which is now a popular term all over the world, is derived from the Tamil word “caṭnī” & Urdu word “chaṭnī” meaning “to lick”. The word represents the lip-smacking nature of the saucy chutneys that are made from various fresh fruits, herbs, and spices. The basic spiced chutneys that originated in India can be traced back to around 500 BC and this was adopted by the Romans as a method to preserve foods. Chutney’s travel around the world can be attributed to the British. During the colonial era, the British took the recipe of chutneys to their country and from there to their colonies, including South Africa and the Caribbean Islands.
At the time of their entrance in England and France sometime in the early 1600s, chutneys were more of a luxury product and were often referred to as “mangoed” fruits and sometimes as “mangoed” vegetables, with the fruit versions being more popular. While American and British-style chutneys are usually fruit, vinegar, flavourings and sugar cooked down to a reduction, the original Indian versions used more oil and were rarely sweet.
Even within India, chutneys have taken different forms and flavours. The state of Tamil Nadu has thogayal or thuvayal apart from chutneys, which are prepared the same way as chutneys but are pastier in consistency. Chutneys are called roti pacchadi In Andhra Pradesh and tokku in Telangana. Indians, with their legendary Ayurvedic history, have also made chutneys out of vegetables and herbs that are known for their medicinal values – curry leaves, ridged gourds and bitter gourds, for example. From sauces and relishes, chutneys evolved into a dry powder form made from roasted dried lentils in Southern India. These are sprinkled on idlis and dosas or sometimes even mixed with plain rice and a bit of ghee.
Western chutneys are made from using ingredients like mangoes, apples, pears, tamarind, onions, lemon, tomato, raisins, coconut, vinegar, sugar, honey, citrus peel, garlic, ginger, mint, turmeric, cinnamon, cilantro, and hot chilies. In India, spices like fenugreek, coriander, cumin, and asafoetida are used, along with primary ingredients like cilantro, capsicum, mint, tamarind, coconut, onion, prune, tomato, red chili, green chili, mango, lime, garlic, coconut, peanut, curd, green tomato, peanut, ginger, etc.
To say that the humble chutney that we all love is a symbol of our culinary history and tradition would not be an overstatement. It is also an example of how Indian cuisine has made its mark the world over.