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Plum chutney is an Indian condiment that is popular in many parts of the world. Generally, people use chutney to flavor bland dishes or to complement meat dishes, including chicken. In India, the cooks usually make the chutney fresh for the meal, but in other areas, people make the chutney and preserve it by canning it in jars or with refrigeration. Plum chutneys may be savory, spicy, or sweet, depending on the ingredients.
A cook may use a variety of plums, and typically the type of plum used will affect the chutney's flavor. Tart or sweet plums or a combination of both may be used. Red, black, and green plums are popular choices.
Although many types of chutney are made with raw vegetables, plum chutney and other fruit chutneys are often cooked. A person usually boils the vinegar and sugar and adds other ingredients when the sugar is completely dissolved in the vinegar. A recipe may call for cider, malt, or malt vinegar as well as lemon juice. The acid and sugar help to preserve the chutney as well as add flavor. The sugar may be white or brown sugar.
Other ingredients commonly include spices, such as star anise, cinnamon, and cloves. Savory seasonings may include fresh or dry ginger, mustard seed, and black pepper. Often cooks add sweet or tart apples. After cooking, a cook cools the chutney mixture and processes it in a food processor or blender. Traditionally, Indian cooks grind the chutney on a chutney stone resembling a mortar and pestle.
The sweet and spicy fruit chutneys are similar to sweeter salsas. A cook may reduce the chutney to a puree-like texture, which is traditional, or leave it chunkier, which is a modern version. The condiment is generally thick. In some areas of India, such as the West Bengal region, the plum chutney is a fresh-style chutney. It does not contain preserving ingredients because a cook makes it just before the meal.
Early British explorers discovered chutneys in India and took the concept back to England. The English cooks developed their own style, including preserved plum chutney. As the British Empire expanded, the British cooks introduced plum chutneys to other areas. Some of the areas where they introduced the chutney include the Caribbean islands, the American South, and South Africa.
Some food authors have written cookbooks featuring only chutney recipes. Several cookbooks cover chutneys, pickles, and other preserves. A person can also find chutney recipes on the Internet. Typically, a person could search for "plum chutney recipe" to find recipes on web-based recipe sites.