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Salsa versus Chutney


jhlurie
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Got a mango-black bean salsa today at Whole Foods in Edgewater and it reminded me of our older thread where we were debating the differences between Salsas and Chutneys.  Has anyone dug up any further info on if there is any major difference.   Take out the black beans and today's salsa was chutney.  I swear.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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  • 1 year later...

I'm bumping this up, Jon, because now we have the benefit of Suvir and can probably get an answer. It occurs to me that we have a lot of year-old threads on the site that are worthy of further discussion now that our membership has so massively expanded from eleven regulars to fourteen regulars. But seriously, everybody once in awhile go dig up an oldie but goodie and bring it to the fore.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Got a mango-black bean salsa today at Whole Foods in Edgewater and it reminded me of our older thread where we were debating the differences between Salsas and Chutneys.  Has anyone dug up any further info on if there is any major difference.   Take out the black beans and today's salsa was chutney.  I swear.

John,

This is a great thread. Thanks for starting it.

Would you care to share though how you think Salsa and Chutney are defined? What each of them means to you?

Maybe that can be a great starting point for this debate. I hope I do not sound wrong in asking you for this... My intent is to see what you think and believe and understand... and then open it to the rest of us to share our own understanding of each of these...

Is that fair? Would you mind sharing those answers??? :smile::rolleyes::smile:

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I'm bumping this up, Jon, because now we have the benefit of Suvir and can probably get an answer. It occurs to me that we have a lot of year-old threads on the site that are worthy of further discussion now that our membership has so massively expanded from eleven regulars to fourteen regulars. But seriously, everybody once in awhile go dig up an oldie but goodie and bring it to the fore.

Steven would you be able to post the link to that original thread where the chutney/salsa topic was discussed? That would be very helpful. Or maybe John has already done the find and can post it... I will do some research myself. :wink:

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i don't recall any "debate."  but when plotters gets back we'll have ourselves a knock-down-drag-out.  "i've been told by bean experts on PM that black beans are horrible"  :shock:  :smile:

Tommy have you ever had Maa Kee Dal in an Indian restaurant?

It also goes as Black lentils... Dal Makhani or even Dal Bukhara.....

It is a famous Indian lentil preparation. It is a favorite of Indians and non-Indians alike.

In fact my having cooked this at a dinner landed me my teaching gig at NYU.

Do you know this lentil? I am curious... :wink:

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I'm assuming this is the older thread, although after this long I can't say for sure. Reading it, there was a question (from me) about Salsa vs. Chutney.

As for my definition, again, I think the older thread helps. Salsa is a very free-form thing--the word means "sauce" or something similarly vague. The older thread originally had some topic description along those lines, but I think it got lost with one of the upgrades.

My original contention was never really that salsa and chutney are the same thing. Merely that if you start throwing fruit into salsa, that you are getting pretty close...

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Fat Guy x

Posted: Aug 5 2001, 10:21 PM

Group: Members

Posts: 114

Member No.: 38

Joined: 4-August 01

My old boss and mentor, a litigation partner at one of the top law firms in the country, taught me many things. One of them was his secret to great salsa:

"Use plenty of fresh cilantro. And mix several brands."

-----

Steven A. Shaw

www.fat-guy.com

Steven, I have posted your post on the salsa thread John linked above. Care to share more about that famous Salsa your boss shared with you? Sounds very intriguing. :wink:

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As for my definition, again, I think the older thread helps.  Salsa is a very free-form thing--the word means "sauce" or something similarly vague.

Interesting John. My definition of chutney is almost identical to your definition of a Salsa. :rolleyes::shock::wub:

So what makes them different?? I have asked this of several friends that cook Mexican foods and travel there quite a lot. I have realized that Salsa is to Mexico what Chutney is to India.

What we have accepted as the most commonly accepted Salsa is not most often the one friends of mine that have enjoyed it in Mexico seem to have any love for. Similar is the reaction of many Indians to to Mango Chutney that many in the West have accepted as the norm for chutney.

It is a fascinationg topic you have started. In fact I was working on a story about Chutneys and it has many comparisons and references to Salsa. It is intended for the US Market. And Salsa was used by me as a way of educating people about authentic chutneys.

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I am posting below what the Merriam Webster dictionary defines a chutney as:

Main Entry: chut·ney

Pronunciation: 'ch&t-nE

Function: noun

Inflected Form(s): plural chutneys

Etymology: Hindi catnI

Date: 1813

: a thick sauce of Indian origin that contains fruits, vinegar, sugar, and spices and is used as a condiment

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

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And below is the definition from the same dictionary for Salsa:

Main Entry: sal·sa

Pronunciation: 'sol-s&, 'säl-

Function: noun

Etymology: Spanish, literally, sauce, from Latin, feminine of salsus salted -- more at SAUCE

Date: circa 1962

1 : a spicy sauce of tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers

2 : popular music of Latin American origin that has absorbed characteristics of rhythm and blues, jazz, and rock

And they then have a link to Sauce... and that says the below:

Main Entry: 1sauce

Pronunciation: 'sos, usually 'sas for 4

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin salsa, feminine of salsus salted, from past participle of sallere to salt, from sal salt -- more at SALT

Date: 14th century

1 : a condiment or relish for food; especially : a fluid dressing or topping

2 : something that adds zest or piquancy

3 : stewed fruit eaten with other food or as a dessert

Below is the link from where I got this....

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

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As for my definition, again, I think the older thread helps.  Salsa is a very free-form thing--the word means "sauce" or something similarly vague.  The older thread originally had some topic description along those lines, but I think it got lost with one of the upgrades.

Chutney is a very free form thing as well.

In fact in every Indian household, one finds a unique variety of recipes that attest to that being fact, not mere fiction. Each chef, professional cook and teenager first learning to cook, will have their own take on what a chutney should be.

Chutney in hindi refers to these condiments/sauces/preserved goodies and also to the act whereby you can reduce something into a crushed mass. Often when someone is bashing another person verbally, one would say in India that a chutney is being made of the person being bashed. If someone is beaten up badly, they say that someone made a chutney out of another. And of course then there are the chutneys that are condiments. I shared this detail to show you how many ways the word itself can be used.

Chutneys are made with fruits and vegetables and even herbs and spices and lentils, beans and meats.

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Loquat Salsa

(featured in article on Loquats in LA Times by Fruit Detective David Karp)

1 cup loquats, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

1 cup green papaya, peeled and shredded

1 teaspoon lemon juice

pinch or two of cayenne pepper

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced very fine

1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded

1 teaspoon toasted cumin powder

1 teaspoon sugar

In a medium bowl, mix together the loquats, green papaya, lemon juice,

cayenne, cilantro leaves and jalapeno. Season with toasted cumin powder and sugar.

Serve as a dip, as a condiment to go with foie gras, or on a sandwich with

cheese.

David got the above recipe from me. I choose to call it Salsa for it makes it easier for many Americans to understand this chutney better. And when I serve it to Indians, I call it Chutney for they accept it better under that label. But either way, it is tasty and easy and addictive.

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All the chatni I'm familiar with consist of either fruit-based, veggie-based or a mix of both. Didn't know about the meat or bean based ones.

Chatni to me can be either fresh or cooked versions. Ditto with salsas.

They're both sauces or sauce-like mixtures, except that the balance between ingredients seems to be more important or accentuated in a chatni than in a salsa. That could be my preference speaking though.

Salsas can be either chunky or smooth, liquidy or more solid-based. They can be sweet and mild to incendiary and suitable for asbestos lined throats. Ditto with chatni, but I think the key here is that the spice components need to be identifiable and contrast against each other, something that salsas don't have because the accent is on a harmonious whole -- for the more liquid versions anyway. Not sure if this is clear.

SA

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I think there is a big difference between salsas & chutneys.

I am relatively new to chutney, as for a long time I didn't like it because of the particular spices included in it (infact it is something I am still working on acquiring a taste for as it's something I want to like). However, I have always been a lover of salsa's, even fruit salsas. So I can't explain the difference (other than spices), but my taste buds can tell the difference.

Another thought I just had, is that I don't think I've tasted a fresh chutney, only jarred, which tastes kind of like spicy cinammony jam with fruit in it to me. Whereas salsas are more fresh-like and don't have that jam like consistancy.

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Another thought I just had, is that I don't think I've tasted a fresh chutney, only jarred, which tastes kind of like spicy cinammony jam with fruit in it to me.  Whereas salsas are more fresh-like  and don't have that jam like consistancy.

Here are two recipes for chatni. The first is a fresh one, and the second is a cooked one. Both are from "The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking" by Yamuna Devi (Dutton, 1987).

I should also mention that the TYPE of chatni served in India depends on what's occurring during which the meal is served. Fresh, uncooked chatni can usually be found during home-cooked, family meals, while cooked versions are usually served on holiday, festival and banquet menus.

Dry Coconut Chatni

1 c. unsweetened desiccated coconut, lightly packed

2 to 3 whole dried chiles, broken into pieces and seeded

3 T. dry-roasted chopped peanuts

1/2 to 1 T. salt

about 1/3 c. plain yogurt

3 T. chopped fresh coriander or minced parsley

In a food processor (with a metal blade) or blender, combine 1/2 c. of the coconut, the red chiles and the peanuts, and process until powdered. Add the remaining coconut and salt, and process until uniformly powdered. With the machine running, add the yogurt and pulse until light and fluffy. (To make a smooth puree, simply add more yogurt). Add the fresh herbs and pulse four or five times, just to mix. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Well covered and refrigerated, the chatni can be kept for 1 to 2 days.

-----------

Spicy Plum Chatni

3 T. ghee or a mixture of butter and corn oil

1/2 t. fennel seeds

1/4 t. kalonji (this is also known as nigella or black onion seed; you can get it at Middle Eastern stores that sell it under the label "black seeds" or "siyah daneh"; the seeds have a peppery bite and when heated, an aroma reminiscent of oregano)

1/2 t. black mustard seeds

2 hot green chiles, sliced very thin (or as desired)

1 1/2 lbs. Italian plums, pitted and quartered

1/2 c. raisins, preferably muscat (altho I've found excellent results with golden sultanas)

1 1/2 c. sugar or equivalent sweetener (I sometimes use honey, and therefore reduce the amount of sweetener by half)

1/4 t. salt

1/4 c. coarsely chopped toasted walnuts (try this with unsweetened toasted pecans)

1/4 c. fresh or dried ribbon coconut

2 t. minced crystallized or stem ginger

In a large saucepan, heat the ghee or butter-oil mixture over moderate-low heat. When it is hot but not smoking, add the fennel seeds, kalonji, black mustard seeds and chiles, and fry until the mustard seeds pop and turn gray or the butter froths. Stir in the plums, raisins, sugar and salt and simmer until thick, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate, well covered, for 2 to 3 days.

SA

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Another thought I just had, is that I don't think I've tasted a fresh chutney, only jarred, which tastes kind of like spicy cinammony jam with fruit in it to me.  Whereas salsas are more fresh-like  and don't have that jam like consistancy.

I think you were thinking right. What people in the west associate as Chutney.....

Major Grays Mango Chutney will never make it to any self-respecting Indian or chutney making cooks table.

Chutneys are only ever made fresh. In fact when they are preserved, they become more like pickles and hence served as such. In Indian homes, a good meal must be presented with large varieties of chutneys and pickles. They each have their place in the diet. And they also are important to present together for one is fresh and the other preserved.

Chutney and jam have nothing in common. In fact I make some chutneys that are jam like and I am embarrassed to even bring them out when feeding Indian friends. But my friends, who have lived in the West, enjoy them more than they ever do other preserved stuff. But they do understand through my telling them, that the chutneys they are eating in that jam-like consistency, could very well be just jams with spices.

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I should also mention that the TYPE of chatni served in India depends on what's occurring during which the meal is served.  Fresh, uncooked chatni can usually be found during home-cooked, family meals, while cooked versions are usually served on holiday, festival and banquet menus.

Relishes (achaars, murabbas and chutneys) are served alongside to ensure that each meal has a complexity that would not be present if these relishes are not served.

For fancy banquets and events, professional chefs are just as apt to serve fresh condiments are any other place?

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I think they are really the same and although not all of them can be used interchangeably, some are able to and can even be slightly adapted to fit the flavor pairing you are looking for. I have used chutneys to compliment a fish grilled with "mexican" flavors and I even make a Korean tomato "salsa" with sesame oil and chilies that great with grilled or roated asparagus.

In today's world of fusion cooking it is becoming harder and harder to make distinctions.

Both salsa and chutneys use fruits and vegetables, both fresh and dried herbs/seeds, they are both cooked and fresh, they are both sauces used as condiments.

The only difference I can think of is their country of origin.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Salsas can be either chunky or smooth, liquidy or more solid-based.  They can be sweet and mild to incendiary and suitable for asbestos lined throats.

Yes, that's my understanding of salsa too. I was quite surprised to see how ignorant Webster's dictionary is on the subject of salsa.

a spicy sauce of tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers

Yeah... right. :smile: Eliminate every word in that definition except the word "sauce" and its correct. Or at least add the word "usually" in there somewhere.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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