As a defiant response to sad desk lunches, the Food52 team works to keep our midday meals both interesting and pretty.
Growing up in Pakistan, I didn’t always have a luxury of a million bottles of condiments available to spice up lunches of french fries, sandwiches, or pasta—not for lack of availability in shops, but rather because my mother preferred fresh sauces. She loved to experiment and incorporate many traditional chutneys into our snacks.
Unlike store-bought chutneys, and those served as dipping sauces alongside Indian or Pakistani takeaway on a Friday night, homemade chutney has the potential to be a magical combination of vegetables, fruit, herbs, spices, and chiles, and can be savory or sweet. They also have the versatility to be used as a marinade or curry base, or simply swept across a sandwich, used as a salad dressing, or stirred into yogurt, making them the ideal wingman for your lunch. Almost any basic packed lunch can benefit from their South Asian kick. Here are five variations of chutneys to spice up your lunch:
- Cilantro, Mint, and Coconut Chutney: Mix this herbaceous chutney with butter to use on a pastrami sandwich.
- Sour Plum Chutney: Combine this fruit-based chutney with mayonnaise, then use the spread on a chicken or turkey sandwich. (Think cranberry sauce and turkey, but better.)
- Tamarind, Date, and Cumin Chutney: Use this chutney in place of relish or pickles on a hot dog or burger, or mix it into yogurt for a spicy kick.
- Tomato and Curry Leaf Chutney: An alternative to an old-fashioned tomato sauce, this spicy aromatic combination of ripe tomatoes, infused with curry leaves and traditional South Asian pickle spices, works as a delicious dressing for fresh tomato and cucumber salads—or even as a ketchup alternative.
- Mint, Pomegranate, and Greek Yogurt Chutney: In place of mayonnaise, dress up a classic coleslaw or potato salad with this yogurt-based chutney.
What are some of your favorite ways to use chutney? Tell us in the comments below!
Top photo by Nik Sharma