Chutneys have a special place in Indian cuisine, especially with chatpata or spicy street foods like samosa, kachori, vada pav, etc.  The word "chutney" brings water to the mouth as they always kindle memories of fun foods. It is an Indian concept though its equivalent in other world cuisines is called "dips". It's an accompaniment to the main course or snacks. 

Green mint chutney with stuffed parantha. Finger licking meal.

Chutney is a sauce and condiment in Indian cuisine . It also has a respectable place in South Asia cuisines. They are made from a highly variable mixture of spices, herbs, vegetables, or fruit. Chutney originated in India adds spice and taste to food and has many health benefits. Traditionally, different seasons have different kind of chutneys which are recommended  by Ayurveda. They are digestive and enhance the taste.

Mint, green chillies, garlic, tamarind in a mixer jar, ready to be transformed into the tangy chutney. 😋

Mint Chutney

In India, we have vast varieties of  chutneys as we move from one region to another. According to Wikipedia, A chutney is a family of condiments or sauces in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent. Chutneys may be relished in such forms as tomato relish, a ground peanut garnish, yoghurt or curd, cucumber, spicy coconut, spicy onion or mint dipping sauce. 

In north India, green chutneys made from mint and coriander leaves ( mixed or separate) is popular with snacks like samosa, kachori or pakode. I love this chutney. I usually add garlic, green chilly and amchoor to the leaves which bring in the flavours of the leaves and the accompanying snack. A friend of mine adds sour curd instead of mango powder and lots of chillies. I found it very tasty and different. For mint chutney, I use tamarind for the sour taste and also add some sweetness (jaggery or sugar)  with a liberal amount of chillies. Adding bhuna jeera powder also makes it very tasty. This way, I have three different types of green chutneys.

Tomato sauce with hot bread pakoras...yummy !

Another of my favourite chutney is "imli ki saunth". It's typical sweet-sour chutney which is made with gur / jaggery or sugar. When I had moved to Gujarat, I find another kind of tamarind chutney. Here dates are used instead of sugar or jaggery. this is geographical effect as dates are grown in abundance in the region. It's the source of sweetness that makes the difference in taste. 

Coconut chutneys are popular accompaniments in southern and Maharashtrian  cuisine. Pure white chutney with tempering of mustard seeds and kadhipatta is good for digestion and goes well with everything from dosa, idli, panniyaram or sago vada etc.

Sago vada with coconut chutney
Tomato chutney or onion-tomato chutney or onion-garlic chutney are a hit with stuffed paranthas. There are no rules to make them. By changing the tempering, the flavour of chutneys changes. I use jeera (cumin), saunf (fennel seeds) and mustard seeds ( all separately) for tempering which brings out three different kinds of flavours. 

Indian cuisine is not about precision but has lots of flexibility. This brings a vast variety of flavours in dishes which varies from region to region. 

As a little girl, I saw chutney being made on sil-batta (grinding stone) by crushing all the ingredients carefully. Grinders came on the scene in late sixties. These days, we are spoilt for choices. To choose a good mixer grinder, click here.

With people now busier than in earlier days, many gadgets and ready to eat chutneys or sauces have made their space in the market and on our kitchen shelves. They make the work easier for the busy housewives and is a great relief. 

Ready to eat chutney - Over the shelf.

Over all, chutneys in Indian cuisine are the small wonder which makes or breaks any meal. It's like "chota packet bada dhamaka". 

All pics © Neerja Bhatnagar


  1. The best thing about chutneys is that they just elevate every dish, love coconut and green chutney the best.

    1. Totally agree. And the best part is that, they are healthier than achar/ pickle. aur agar kisi per gussa aa raha ho to chutney bana ke gussa nikala bhi ja sakta hai. Another health benifit. :P


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