Banana chutney is a traditional sweet and sour relish or sauce made from bananas. Chutneys originated in India and are a traditional condiment in South Asian and South African cuisine. The basic ingredients of banana chutney include bananas, sugar, vinegar, raisins and spices. The combination of sugar and vinegar gives it the characteristic sweet and sour taste. The ingredients are mixed, simmered, bottled and stored for later use.
The spices used for banana chutney vary by recipe and personal preference. Ginger — either crystallized ginger or ground ginger powder — and red chili peppers are the most commonly used spices in banana chutney. Other optional ingredients that are commonly added include onions, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, carrots, dates, prunes, rum and coconut. Any type of vinegar can be used, although malt vinegar, red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar are most commonly used for banana chutney.
Banana chutney can be served hot or cold and is often made in large batches, bottled, sealed and stored for later use. Chutney can be used immediately but it is generally bottled and allowed to age for several weeks to mature prior to use. Traditionally, it is served alongside fish and curry dishes, as a spread on buttered bread or with cheese and crackers. The chutney also goes well served with pork or chicken, as a sauce for falafel or vegetable pita sandwiches, and tossed with rice, couscous, pasta or vegetables.
In addition to bananas, fruit chutney is often made from pears, apricots, apples, dates, nectarines, cherries, blueberries, pineapple, mangos and papayas. Fruit chutney often combines two or more fruits and always produces a sweet and sour sauce. The spicy flavor, or hotness, of the chutney varies from mild to fire hot, depending on the amount of chilies added to the chutney.
Chutneys are not always made from fruit; they also can be made from vegetables and herbs such as onion chutney or cilantro mint chutney. Recipes also are available for more uncommon chutneys, such as peanut or yogurt chutney. Chutney can be made out of virtually any combination of vegetables or fruits and herbs or spices with a focus on the traditional sweet and sour or sweet and hot theme. Cooks can experiment with different variations of banana chutney by adding various fruits and herbs to the basic recipe. One can try adding mango and papaya to the bananas for a tropical chutney; apples, pears, cherries, peaches and bananas for a mixed fruit chutney; or lemon and lime with the banana for a citrus chutney.