On most American tables, the staple condiment is likely ketchup. In my household, we go for something a little more exotic: chutney. Chutneys have been a staple in Indian households for centuries—and they’re clearly onto something.
With their balance of sweet and savory, and tart and spicy, chutneys add complexity, flavor, and intrigue to most any dish. The cooking methods and ingredients vary from region to region in India; for this recipe, I went with classic mango, in which the fruit’s grassy sweetness is complemented by brown sugar, vinegar, and warm spices.
The best mango chutneys strike a balance between warm spices, sweet mango, sugar, and tangy vinegar. I quickly settled on dry mustard, cinnamon, cayenne, and cloves for the spices, which I bloomed in oil to coax out as much flavor as possible. I also added some minced red onion for savory depth and sautéed it until softened. Some minced garlic and grated ginger go in next for a burst of heat.
With its tender bites of fresh fruit and balance of sweet and savory, this chutney is perfect for jazzing up roasts, fish, and cheese plates. Who needs ketchup? I’d even put it on a burger.
I like to make mango chutney in the summer when mangos are ripest, but fret not if it’s January and there are no ripe fruit; the flavor will be great regardless. (Most traditional recipes actually call for unripe mangos.)
Blooming the spices in oil coaxes out every bit of their flavor and releases pungent aromatic compounds.
I prefer brown sugar to granulated because of its caramel flavor. If you’re preparing this recipe using unripe mangos, increase the sugar quantity by a bit to make up for the fruit’s lack of sweetness. If it’s still not sweet enough at the end of the procedure, add more to taste.
Once everything’s in the pan, turn the heat up to medium-high to bring it to a simmer. Let the chutney simmer away until it has cooked down into a thicker consistency.
After about 30 minutes, you should be able to see a film beginning to stick to the bottom of the pan.
At that point, transfer it to a jar for storage, allow it to cool to room temperature, cover, then refrigerate—or, skip all that and put it straight to use (as we do in my house).