Culinary Arts

What Is Chutney and 6 Easy Chutney Recipes

Written by MasterClass

Mar 7, 2019 • 6 min read

Stateside, chutneys are somewhere between a jam, a relish, and a jelly, but in India, that’s just the tip of the chutney iceberg.

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What Is Chutney?

Chutney is a gluten-free, spicy or savory condiment originating in India. Chutney is made from fruits, vegetables, and/or herbs with vinegar, sugar, and spices. It’s used to provide balance to an array of dishes, or highlight a specific flavor profile. Broadly, the word chutney is now applied to anything preserved in sugar and vinegar, regardless of its texture, ingredients, or consistency.

What Is Chutney Served With?

Chutney is an integral part of Indian cuisine. It is served with everything from basmati rice to breads like naan or dosa to curry dishes. Elsewhere in the world, you may see a variety of chutney paired with dishes, like onion chutney with roasted meats or a fruity apple chutney with buttery, creamy cheese like brie or goat cheese.

What Equipment Do You Need to Make Chutney?

You can make chutney in one of the following:

  • A Dutch oven. A chutney is essentially a sauce that requires a low and slow cook time. A pot like a Dutch oven is the perfect vessel since it disperses heat evenly and allows for plenty of room for big batches.
  • A food processor. Some chutneys, especially ones built around herbs, share DNA with sauces like salsa verde: They’re best fresh, zizzed up in a food processor or blender.
  • A sauce pot. Some chutneys, like a red wine or balsamic reduction, require time on the stove-top to concentrate their flavors and cook down to the right consistency.

How to Make Chutney in a Pressure Cooker

To make a chutney in a pressure cooker, heat a tablespoon of oil in the pot, then saute your spices—think cumin, fennel, and mustard—until they’re sizzling and toasted. Add your aromatics (onion, ginger, garlic) and your main fruit (cranberries, mangoes, rhubarb, etc), plus the ground spices of your choice (like cayenne, garam masala, and salt.) Stir to combine. Add liquids like juice and/or vinegar and cook on high for 5 minutes. Once pressure is released, stir the chutney, then add a sweetener (like brown sugar or jaggery) and zest if desired, adjust seasoning as needed. Cook for 2 more minutes.

various chutneys on a table


6 Easy, Classic Indian Chutney Recipes:

Tomato chutney. Like a more nuanced version of ketchup, tomato chutney is a perfect way to capture the end-of-season jammy fruits at their best.

  • Tomato chutney recipe: Combine 4 lbs tomatoes (peeled, cored, and medium diced), ¼ cup minced garlic, 1 cup chopped onions, ¾ cup brown sugar, ¾ cup granulated sugar, 1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp pickling salt, the zest and juice of 1 lime, 1 tbsp powdered ginger, 1 tsp chili pepper flakes (more if desired), ½ tsp ground cumin, ½ cup golden raisins, roughly chopped, and ½ tsp black pepper in a heavy-bottomed 4-6 quart pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook up to 2 hours, or until slightly thickened (stirring often to prevent scorching). Season to taste. If canning, transfer the chutney into canning jars, leaving ¼ space at the top. Bring canning water bath to a boil, and submerge at a medium boil for 10 minutes. Remove jars and cool for 24 hours before storing in a cool, dark place.

Mango chutney. Unlike aam ka achar, or spicy mango pickle, mango chutneys are usually on the sweeter side of salty and the ripe fruit is broken down into a soft, spreadable condiment. It’s a perfect calming note to add to spicy foods, and it’s even delicious on something as simple as grilled cheese.

  • Mango chutney recipe: Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil and ½ tsp red chili flakes in a pot over medium heat, then add 1 medium chopped onion and cook until translucent and soft. Add ¼ cup chopped fresh ginger and 1 clove of garlic, minced, and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add 4 lbs roughly chopped mango (peeled and pitted), ½ cup golden raisins, 1 ½ cups sugar, ¾ cup white vinegar, 1 tsp garam masala, ½ tsp mustard seeds, and 1 tsp salt. Stir well to combine, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and allow to simmer up to an hour until chutney resembled a thick syrup. Place in a clean glass jar and allow to cool completely to room temperature before covering and storing in the fridge.

Mint chutney. Mint chutney is a fresh foil to fried foods like samosa or pakora.

  • Mint chutney recipe: Combine 2 cups loosely packed cilantro (with stems), 1 cup mint leaves, ½ cup chopped red onion, 1-2 stemmed green chilies (Thai bird chili works great), 2 cloves chopped garlic, 1 tbsp lemon juice, and 1 tsp grated ginger in a food processor and season to taste with salt. Blend, adding water as needed, until chutney has a loose, pourable consistency.

Tamarind chutney. This sweet dipping sauce also provides vibrancy to classic samosas and pakoras.

  • Tamarind chutney recipe: Dissolve 2 tbsp tamarind concentrate in 2 cups just-boiling water over medium-heat heat. Add 1 cup jaggery sugar (or demerara if unable to find online or in Indian grocery stores) ½ tsp kosher salt, ½ tsp cayenne, ½ tsp ground cumin, and ½ tsp ginger powder. Reduce heat and simmer until chutney is thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon.

Green chutney. Think of electric green chutney as a more heat-forward version of mint chutney.

  • Green chutney recipe: Combine 2 cups fresh cilantro, with stems, 2 green chilies, ½ inch fresh ginger, chopped, ½ tsp lime juice, ½ tsp ground cumin, ½ chaat masala (a spice blend usually used on street food and featuring black salt, amchoor, and asafoetida that can be found online) and ½ tsp salt. Add 1 or 2 tbsp water and blend until smooth.

Peanut chutney. This is a quick Andhra-style chutney with peanuts.

  • Peanut chutney recipe: Fry 1 cup peanuts in 1 tbsp of vegetable oil over medium-high heat, until browned. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. In the same pan, add 4 dried red chilies, 1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped, and 5-6 cloves of garlic, smashed. When golden brown and softened, remove and transfer to plate of peanuts. Let all ingredients cool, then add to a food processor with 4 tbsp fresh tamarind and season with salt (you can also add ground fresh coconut here if you’d like). Add water a tablespoon at a time and blend well, until a paste forms. Transfer to a bowl. In the original pan, heat 2 more tbsp vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add 1 tsp mustard seeds, ½ tsp cumin seeds, and ¼ tsp hing (asafoetida) and fry until mustard beings to pop. Add 1 tsp urad dal and fry until golden brown. Add 10-12 curry leaves and fry briefly until blistered and glossy, then pour over the peanut paste and mix well.

Love Indian flavors? Learn how to prepare vegetables with Indian spices from Alice Waters here.

Fruit Chutney Recipe With Variations

1 tbsp
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
1 hr
  • Vegetable oil
  • 4 cups yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 8 cups fresh fruit of choice
  • 1 cup dried fruit of choice
  • 2 fresh chilies of choice
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add 4 cups chopped yellow onion and cook until beginning to brown.
  3. Add 1 tbsp minced garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  4. Add 8 cups prepared fresh fruit, 1 cup dried fruit of choice (think apricots, currants, golden raisins), chopped, 1 cup granulated or brown sugar, 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup water, 2 fresh chilies of choice, seeded (1 tsp red pepper flakes work here too) and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, stirring often.
  5. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until thickened, 30 to 40 minutes.
  6. To know it’s done, place a spoonful of chutney on a plate and draw a line through the center. If the line holds and the chutney doesn’t bleed into the middle, it’s done.

For variations, try mixing in:

  • Cranberries
  • Apple
  • Rhubarb
  • Cherry-Nectarine
  • Strawberry