Relish and chutney are very similar condiments and the terms are often used interchangeably, but some general differences do exist. Chutneys are cooked longer than most relishes are. As a result, the texture and consistency of the two condiments tends to vary. Most chutneys are also sweeter than most relishes, but the taste of a chutney can be spicy or sour, as well. The biggest difference between relish and chutney, however, is where the two condiments originated.
In some senses, chutney is simply a type of relish with roots and flavors based in Indian cuisine. Both relish and chutney are condiments made from small pieces of fruits or vegetables mixed with spices and other flavors. Relish is a general term for all such condiments and appears throughout various western cuisines, but chutney, a derivative of the Hindi word chatni, dates back to 15th century Eastern India. Chutney only came to western cuisine in the 17th century when it was first shipped to Britain and France.
Relishes are cooked for a brief amount of time. Chutneys, on the other hand, can either be served fresh or slow-cooked. Traditional Indian chutneys are more likely to be served fresh, while western versions are generally cooked over low heat for an extended period of time. Most commercially-sold chutneys are also made using the slow-cook method, since traditional Indian chutneys are usually prepared without preservatives and are meant for immediate consumption.
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