What Is Gooseberry Chutney?

Lakshmi Sandhana

Gooseberry chutney is a sauce or type or relish made from gooseberries, a fruit which has a tart flavor. This berry is found in parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe, and there are multiple ways to prepare it. In India, gooseberry chutney is a spicy concoction that is used as a side dish with foods like steamed rice, idli, a type of steamed rice cakes, and dosa, which is a roasted pancake made of rice flour and lentils. When prepared in the Western style, gooseberry chutney is a sweet and tart sauce that is used to accompany roast goose, cold meats, and cheese cuts.

Whole gooseberries.
Whole gooseberries.

In India, the berry is called nellika in Tamil and amla in Hindi. The chutney may be called nellika chutney, nellika chammanthi, or amla chutney. Rich in vitamin C and well known for its antiaging properties, the Indian gooseberry can be found in many traditional medicines. It is used in various ways to boost the immune system, reduce blood sugar in diabetics, increase hair growth, and reduce the risk of cancer.

Gooseberry cut in half.
Gooseberry cut in half.

Incorporating the nutritious gooseberry into the daily diet is easy with chutney as many do not prefer to eat it by itself because of its sour taste. Many roadside vendors sell the Indian gooseberry from small handcarts that they push from house to house. Aside from chutney, it can be made into pickles or added to curries.

Gooseberries still on the bush.
Gooseberries still on the bush.

The spicy version of this chutney involves grating the gooseberry and blending it with other ingredients in a blender. These may include grated coconut, grated carrot, and red or gree chillies. Coriander powder, curry leaves, and asofetida may also be added to the mix. Some preparations involve frying the spices and onion in oil and then roasting the gooseberry until the raw fragrance of it disappears, while other methods call for grinding presalted gooseberries with the other ingredients without frying it in oil. In both cases, the mixture is ground into a semicoarse paste and is eaten immediately, served hot with various Indian dishes.

Ground coriander seeds are a popular ingredient in chutney.
Ground coriander seeds are a popular ingredient in chutney.

When prepared in the Western style, this chutney takes on the form of a thick, watery sauce with chunks of gooseberry in it. The name gooseberry is thought to have come from using these berries as a tart relish for roast goose. Full of seeds, this fruity sauce goes well with roast pork, lamb, smoked mackerel, and deep-fried brie.

Gooseberry chutney may be used as a side dish with steamed rice.
Gooseberry chutney may be used as a side dish with steamed rice.

In the past, people made chutneys out of gooseberry to preserve the fruit for long periods. Stored under the right conditions, it can last for up to a year. Typically, though, gooseberry isn't really popular as a summer fruit because of its really sharp, bitter taste. For those used to sweet berries, gooseberry chutney emerged as one of the best ways to consume this berry on a regular basis.

In India, gooseberry chutney is used as a side dish.
In India, gooseberry chutney is used as a side dish.

Preparing gooseberry chutney in the Western style involves simmering the deseeded berries with some onions, sugar, spices, and vinegar until the berries become soft and the mixture thickens. Some cooks may add herbs like chopped rosemary, mint, or other ingredients like sherry, cayenne pepper, and ground ginger to alter the taste. The mixture is cooked until is has reduced in volume by about a third and then is poured into warm, sterilized jars. The jars are sealed with wax discs and cellophane covers and labeled when cool. Chutney made this way not only lasts for around a year but also mellows in flavor the longer it is stored.

Tart gooseberry chutney is sometimes eaten alongside fiery Indian curries to cool the palate.
Tart gooseberry chutney is sometimes eaten alongside fiery Indian curries to cool the palate.

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