A relish is a food item, generally a cooked and pickled form of vegetable or fruit that is used to enhance the flavor of or add flavor to other foods. It is used as a condiment for other dishes. It adds a zest to any kind of food.
A relish consists of chopped fruit or vegetable pieces covered in sauce. The vegetable and fruit pieces are more visible and form the character of the dish rather than the sauce. Relish recipes may suggest the use of a single fruit or vegetable, or of multiple combinations. The fruits and vegetables may be coarsely chopped. It does not acquire the texture of smooth paste like condiments, for example tomato sauce. The taste may range from sweet to tangy, or from spicy to mild, but it has a strong and distinct taste that significantly adds to the food item with which it is paired.
In North America, relish is a more popular food item in Canada, where all restaurant chains also offer it along with their hamburgers and hotdogs. The United States fast food chains, however, do not offer this condiment, but other alternatives like ketchup and mustard. Even if they offer it in their Canadian outlets, it is offered in small packets only if asked for, and not atop the burger as in Canadian restaurants. Canadian fast food chains like Harvey’s offer it as a regular condiment. Restaurants and sports stadiums in Cananda top their hamburgers and hotdogs with relish, along with ketchup and mustard.
History of Relish:
Relish recipes are considered to have originated from India, where a whole range of pickled foods of almost all kinds of fruits and vegetables available, are prepared. The dish seems to have been created to fulfill the need of storing or preserving vegetables and fruits.
- Fruits: Fruits like peaches and pears are often used for preparing relishes.
- Vegetables: Almost all vegetables are put to use in different recipes. Cucumbers and corn are commonly used for preparing pickle relishes in United States. Raw mango and chillies are used extensively in India. Tomatoes are also a popular ingredient.
- Sauce Base: The fruit or vegetable pieces are covered in a sauce like base, for example mustard base which is used in hotdog relish, or ketchup which is used in hamburger relish.
Relish recipes can be of numerous kinds, as different types of vegetables, herbs and spices are mixed to prepare thousands of relishes all over the world. Here are some common relish recipes.
- Chow-chow is an American version which is made from cabbage, green tomato, chayote, red tomato, carrots, onions, beans, asparagus, cauliflower and peas. The contents are pickled and stored in a sealed jar. Chow-chow is served cold.
- Ajvar or aijvar is relish made from red bell peppers, eggplant, chilli pepper and garlic. It is traditionally a part of the Serbian cuisine. It is also called ‘Serbian vegetable caviar’. The home made relish recipes for ajvar use roasted peppers, while the industrial ones use cooked peppers.
- Mixed pickles are pickles made from a mix of vegetables. They are tangy or spicy in taste and are eaten in small quantities along with other foods.
- ‘Chutney’ and ‘achar’ are Indian versions of relishes. ‘Chutney’ is usually made of coriander or mint leaves, along with green chillies, salt, onion, garlic and lime juice. Achar is made of pickled vegetables, either a single one or a combination of many. There are a wide variety of recipes and ingredient combinations for chutney and achar.
- Branston pickle is a brand of sweet pickle popular in United Kingdom. It is made from different types of diced vegetables like carrots, onions, cauliflower, gherkins, swede, etc. The vegetables are pickled in a sauce which contains tomato, vinegar, apple and dates, as well as spices like mustard, coriander, pepper, garlic, cloves, cayenne pepper, etc. Sugar is also present in Branston pickle, which has been replaced by corn syrup in the new variants.
- British Picalilli is a relish made from cauliflower and vegetable marrow along with mustard and turmeric. It is served along with toast, cheese, eggs, bacon, etc. It is less sweet and has a tangier taste as compared to Branston pickle. It is bright yellow in color owing to the turmeric content, has larger pieces of vegetables and is used as a relish on the plate to complement other dishes rather than as a bread spread. It is used as a condiment along with ham and brawn.
- Tartare sauce or tartar sauce is made from chopped vegetables and mayonnaise. Vegetables used include cucumber, capers, onions and fresh parsley. Some relish recipes for tartare sauce use hard boiled eggs, horseradish or olives. Dijon mustard is used in some recipes for emulsification. To make tartare sauce with a sharp flavor, vinegar can be used as an ingredient. In Britain, the relish recipes for tatare sauce use mayonnaise made with white wine vinegar, eggs and oil. Capers, gherkins and lemon juice are added as well.
- Zacusca is a popular relish from Romania, which is made from roasted eggplant or cooked beans, roasted peppers and onion.
Miscellaneous Facts about Relish
- Some popular brands of pickled relishes in the United States are Heinz, Claussen and Vlasic.
- Sweet pickle and pickle chutney are similar condiments from the United States and UK respectively.