Chutney, which comes from the Hindi word chatni, came over from India with British officers in colonial times. Indians use a wide range of chutneys to accompany meals or as sauces in their own right. They can be hot, sweet, sour, tangy, tart, or a combination of these and are made from the fruits and vegetables abundantly available; mangoes, pears, apples, tomatoes, tamarind, coconuts and many more, boiled down with sugar and vinegar with some citrus perhaps or just assembled as a fresh pickle to serve cold.
Growing up in England, I am used to the very sweet mango chutney that is ubiquitously enjoyed with crispy poppadoms from the takeaway. My Dad (who grew up in Bombay, the son of an Indian naval officer) loves the more authentic mango and lime pickles which you can find in Indian shops that have more than just sweetness going on and I’ve grown to love these. Bombay Duck pickle is the absolute best, which is made from a kind of fish (not duck), native to the city’s waters. The fish is dried in the sun and then washed in vinegar before being cooked with the other ingredients to make the pickle. It has an acquired tang, tasting almost fermented, with some heat and acidity; a complexity which inspired to try my own version of mango chutney, the catalyst for which being my first taste of the Mango Girls’ fragrant Alphonso mango purée.
The purée is canned as soon as the mangoes are harvested in India so it retains its vibrant colour and wonderful flavour which is so hard to find from mangoes in this country. For me, this makes it perfect for a chutney that is savoury rather than sweet, with a real depth of flavour and of course, a bright orange colour.
I used red onion, ginger, chilli and cumin as a base to give a savoury earthiness and background heat. I then added the mango purée which is doing most of the work for me. Coriander stalks, a cinnamon stick, a clove and 2 cardamom pods infuse while the chutney reduces. I added a tablespoon of cider vinegar and some tamarind for tartness and a tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt to balance the sweet, sour and acidic flavours. I let it boil for about half an hour until it was a ketchup consistency then passed it through a sieve to leave it silky smooth.
I was really happy with the balance of flavours in the chutney, and that it was delicious without being overly sweet. This would go really well with spiced, grilled meat, definitely with a barbecue and of course it would be great on the side of a good curry.