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Salsa, Chutney, Pickle & Relish Recipes






Pickles & Relish:

Condiments we love


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Salsas, chutneys and pickles are bursts of excitement and flavor. They can be made from cooked ingredients or fresh, but salsas and chutneys add heat to our foods and enliven them with spices. When you try a few, you will find your favorites and always be able to dash into the kitchen at the last minute to add variety to the tastes on the plate.

But salsa and chutney do more than bring their color and variety to a plate. They round out the vitamin needs, the nutrition of any meal, and when we smother our food with their piquant flavors, we are adding the great nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables to our food. Try a lot of salsas, mix up several batches of chutneys, have them ready for enjoyment.


The heat of salsas and chutneys has a purpose: to make the eater break into a sweat. The body cools itself by sweating, and hot foods have developed in countries that deal with hotter climates. The original Nahautl word for sweet green peppers was chilli. Today we see recipes with a variety of spellings chile, chili chilli, and it has become the generic name for all peppers. And chiles come in infinite variety from sweet to warm to hot to fiery.

New Pickle, Relish and Chutney Recipes:


Salsa is both the Spanish and the Italian word for sauce. In the evolution of food awareness in the US, sauce once meant a buttery, creamy French sauce or the classic Italian tomato sauce. Mysteriously, many Italian-Americans called their tomato sauce 'gravy,' the reasoning for that only partly obvious. As we began to globalize, food awareness grew. When Southwestern became a food craze, salsa became popular, especially with grilled food, and is now inextricably linked to Mexican salsa. Many salsa recipes that are not authentic Mexican recipes carry that influence so strongly that we don't know the difference between the real Mexican salsa and the adopted one. Fusion cooking has gripped the world and rightful ownership of any cuisine seems to exist only in those valuable old books that we all cherish. There are salsas made primarily with fruits, some made with vegetables. Some salsas are cooked, some are not. Beans make a filing salsa. The important element to a successful salsa is freshness of ingredients. That is true with all foods, but of utmost importance when not cooking foods. Salsa is lively and lively means fresh.

Salsa is an ancient condiment. Food historians believe that 15th-century Aztec Indians made it in some form. The first person to write of what may have been salsa was Bernardino de Sahagún who made note of a prepared sauce that was offered for sale in the markets of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City today). In the sauce were tomatoes, hot red peppers, hot green peppers and pumpkin seeds. Sahagún says, "He [the market vendor] sells foods, sauces, hot sauces, fried [food], olla-cooked, juices, sauces of juices, shredded [food] with chile, with squash seeds, with tomatoes, with smoke chile, with hot chile, with yellow chile, with mild red chile sauce, yellow chile sauce, sauce of smoked chile, heated sauce, he sells toasted beans, cooked beans, mushroom sauce, sauce of small squash, sauce of large tomatoes, sauce of ordinary tomatoes, sauce of various kinds of sour herbs, avocado sauce."

A chilling record of an early salsa was recorded by eyewitnesses to Aztec sacrifice. An intrinsic form of their religion, human sacrifice was conducted to keep the sun in its path. The victim would have its heart cut out (by priests) and its limbs severed. Ritualized feasting on these limbs was an integral part of the ritual of sacrifice. Moctezuma reputedly ate the thighs of young men with a sauce of tomato and chili pepper. If this was salsa, it was a lively one at that.

Tomatoes, or as the Aztecs knew them tomatl, and chile peppers, were gifts from the new world to the old, though not with human body part. They have been in existence since prehistoric times and recipes are handed down from mother to daughter. In Mexico, salsa is made by hand, not purchased in a can. Freshness is a quality of salsa that Mexican cooks value.

Brought to North American shores by the vast immigrant population welcomed here, today salsas and chutneys have has blended, twisted, joined forces with other cuisines. We celebrate the perpetual mutation as it leads us to the discovery of new and exciting combinations. Salsas join the smooth texture of mild cheeses with their chunky , spicy textures. In southern restaurants, salsa and tortilla chips are brought to the table as soon as customers are seated. Salsa has become so popular that it has overtaken the perennial favorite, ketchup, as the best selling ingredient in the US. And for the home cook, salsa offers a hidden ingredient: making salsa releases the imagination. Salsa is also a Latin dance and that's the clue for how to prepare a good salsa. Dance in the kitchen, experiment, play, have fun with salsa. But no human sacrifice, please.


Chutney, Pickles & Relish

The word chutney comes from the Hindi word chatni.Food historians believe that chutney have originated in Eastern India during or before the 15th and 16th century. After the Raj and British dominance of India, a single chutney in a bottle became popular and for a long time, there was only this one chutney in the minds of a non-Indian cook. But, just as with salsa, the world has expanded and we now know that there are a wide variety of spicy relishes and condiments.. For the sake of convenience, we include relishes and pickles in this category as they are all condiments to be eaten with a meal. Chutney often blends these concepts and is perhaps a very early form of fusion cooking.

In India, throughout Asia, condiments are on the table at almost every meal. They tease the palate and enhance flavors. They are made with the freshest ingredients. A chutney might be raw or cooked, chunky or smooth. When cooked down, the sugars caramelize, and the flavors intensify, as they would with any gravy or sauce.

Chutneys vary widely through the different Indian regions. They vary also in flavor, whether sweet or sour, spicy or mild. As with any hot food, they make one sweat and cool one down at he same time.

We asked our Indian friend and fellow food-lover, Rushina Munshaw -Ghildiyal, about the difference between pickles and chutney in India. Here is what she advised us:

"In India pickles are eaten with everything, from the simple pickles that are used to perk up a plain daily meal of Dal - Bhaat (Lentil soup and rice) or Roti-Subzi (Unleavend bread with vegetables). Pickles also go really well with Paranthas the Griddle roasted flaky breads and yoghurt. The instant mango pickle can be used to perk up a rice dish while the Chundo and Methambo will go well on bread as a spicy Jam or relish with roast meats.

The basic difference in Chutneys and pickles is that (and the parameters blur here) Chutneys are made fresh in small amounts and finished quickly (though there can be chutneys that are cooked and have a longer shelf life which I think was a result of the British rule in India) and Pickles are usually put down in larger quantities for use over a period of time. Also the texture comes in to play to define one from the other - Chutneys are usually pureed or ground herbs and spices or semi solid and jam like while ingredients in pickles are chunky usually retain their crunch and remain true in some part to their raw forms." To learn more, read Rushina's article on the traditions of pickling in India:



Relish & Pickle Recipes


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