A chutney is a piquant relish based on sweet and sour ingredients: fruit and vinegar, sugar and spices. A marmalade is usually a citrus preserve utilizing flesh and rind, though in many cases--particularly ours--a marmalade marries the idea of a traditional chutney and a traditional marmalade. The making of chutneys is based on the understanding of the many different concepts and techniques bound together into the final amalgam the chutney. We use gastriques, spice blends, salt, sugar, pepper and vinegar. We use herbs and occasionally marinate ingredients before cooking them. We can fold in finished jams or use them as a base for the chutney. We use alcohol to add background and rich flavors as well as to bring forth subtle nuances. Furthermore, the inclusion of pickles and fruit juices, fresh and reduced, add another layer to the chutney. Finally, the finished chutney can be used as a crust or topping to add finishing flavor to a dish. In a chutney we balance tastes and draw on simple techniques and culinary outlooks which are fundamental to our cooking.
The key when making chutneys is achieving a flavor balance. We use fruits and vegetables balanced with vinegar and spices to create a base in which a blend of contrasting and complementary ingredients show the final product is greater than the sum of its parts. The blending of ingredients, the balancing of tastes, the melding of flavors allow for chutneys to have explosive and subtle flavors. Their piquant nature organizes the palate for rich ingredients. Chutneys are also useful in subtle dishes for they act to point out the delicate flavors of steamed fish or braised salsify. The chutney delivers flavor while also defining the flavors accompanying it in a dish. No component can overpower the others or else the chutney will be out of balance.
The development of our chutneys is guided by an understanding of ingredients and how we wish to use them. Our inspiration is usually sparked by bountiful produce markets overflowing with ingredients at their flavor zenith. As a small restaurant we can only use so much of a certain product, so in turning the excess into a chutney, we give an extended and new life to beautiful products.