I like having a chutney in Yorkshire Grub’s first round of recipes because it shows that, even though this site is about food that your great grandma would recognise as historically English, we’ve been taking on influences from other cultures for yonks.
Chutney has its origins in India and the word is actually an anglicisation of the word ‘chatni’. There are two types of chutney – freshly-made perparations meant to to be consumed immediately and the cooked variety, intended to be kept for long periods, that’s more familiar in Britain.
The first chutneys made their way to Europe as luxury imports in the late 1600s, and by the 1800s imports were coming in thick and fast (suitably cooled down for English tastes, of course).
Traditional Indian cooked chutneys were often cooked slowly in the hot sun over a number of days, but good luck getting that to work over here. The recipe below is for a stove-top cook, but you could definitely pull out a slow cooker and do it in that.
One of the nice things about chutneys and pickles is their adaptability – so long as you have the balance of veg vs vinegar and sugar right, you can bung whatever you have to hand in. It’s a great way to use up seasonal gluts, so this tomato chutney is perfect for this time of year. Though supermarkets seem unwavering in their determination to sell you six pallid, flavourless tomatoes for 60p, market traders will often give you a huge great bag of deep red fruits for a quid through the summer and early autumn.
Chutney’s also a great thing to have on hand. As well as slapping it on a cheese sarnie or next to a pork pie, a good chutney will happily perk up a soup or curry. My mum will even use a dollop of it to sweeten and enrich gravy, though for the time being you’ll have to take her word for that rather than mine.
I’ve based this recipe on those from Traditional Yorkshire Recipes (Mrs Appleby, 1982) and Old Recipes of Yorkshire (2002, curated by Ann C. Johnson, recipe by Mrs S. Wakeford c1908) but opted to spice it up a little. It’s still pretty easy on those with milder palates, but has a bit more punch than the sort of stuff mill workers would have eaten 150 years ago. This recipe makes a pretty substantial batch, though, so unless you’re planning on giving a few jars away you might want to think about halving the measurements.