Wednesday, May 10, 2006 (SF Chronicle)
Panelists unimpressed by mango chutneys
Carol Ness, Chronicle Staff Writer
 
 
   Never have Indian flavors been more popular here. And the selection of
chutneys in supermarkets has grown along with the trend.
   For this tasting, we narrowed the field to mango chutneys, the biggest
group. Included are the famous Major Grey chutneys, whose main ingredient
is usually mangoes.
   These preserved and pickled fruit condiments are spicy, vinegary and
sweet. The best have a good balance, but the flavorings can vary so much
that choices come down to personal preference.
   The tasting panel didn't love the chutneys, which they tasted plain.
Normally, chutneys are served alongside curries and meat dishes -- they're
not the main attraction, but a pungent side note. The low overall scores
may simply indicate that tasted alone, the chutneys' imperfections stand
out more than they would mixed into a bite of tikka masala or rogan josh.
   The winner was Dil Khush Orange Mango Chutney ($5.49 for 10 ounces, Whole
Foods). This was one of the palest chutneys in the bunch. The tasters
liked the addition of citrus to the mango, saying "the fruity flavor
shines through" and "nice citrus flavor, more balance than any other." One
taster thought the citrus drowned out the mango taste. It was three
panelists' favorite, and all three would buy it. One might, and one
wouldn't.
   Second-ranked Shakti Mango Chutney ($4.99 for 9 ounces, Rainbow) had a
"great curry, cumin flavor" but was "way too salty" with a
"rubbery-tasting" finish. One would buy this chutney, one might and three
wouldn't.
   Patak's Sweet Mango Chutney ($5.19 for 12 ounces, Andronico's), one of two
Patak's chutneys in the tasting, was more sweet than mango. Two tasters
commented on a "processed" taste. Two might buy it; three wouldn't.
   In fourth place, Sharwood's Major Grey Mango Chutney ($6.99 for 12.5
ounces, Draeger's), one of two Sharwood's entries, pleased two tasters for
its "really nice blend of sweet and spicy." But it also was very sweet,
"more like marmalade." One would buy this chutney, one might and three
wouldn't.
   Tied for fifth were Sun Brand Original Major Grey's Mango Chutney ($6.19
for 10 ounces, Mollie Stone's) and Sukhi's Hot Mango Chutney ($5.99 for 8
ounces, Rainbow).
   The Sun chutney had the "best chutney consistency" but "doesn't have
enough kick." One would buy it, two might and two wouldn't.
   Sukhi's was "nicely spiced" but lacked mango flavor. Three might buy it;
two wouldn't.
 
Mango chutney
 
   Dil Khush 64
   Shakti 55
   Patak's Sweet 48
   Sharwood's Major Grey 47
   Sukhi's Hot 46
   Sun 46
   Silver Palate 43
   Taj 39
   Patak's Major Grey 37
   Sukhi's Mango 37
   Hathi 25
   Crosse & Blackwell 23
   Masala Maza 14
   Sharwood's Mango/Ginger 12
 
   Panelists were Linda Anusasananan, food writer and consultant, San Mateo;
Stuart Brioza, chef, Rubicon, San Francisco; John Carroll, cookbook
author, San Francisco; Stacy Finz, San Francisco Chronicle Food section;
and Roland Passot, chef-owner, La Folie and five Left Banks. All products
are tasted blind; a perfect score would be 100. Prices listed are the
lowest found, but products may be available at other stores.
 
   E-mail Carol Ness at cness@sfchronicle.com. To look up past Taster's
Choice columns, search online at sfgate.com/food/tasters/archive.
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Copyright 2006 SF Chronicle