South Africa's Classic Chutney May Actually Be From Canada

Chutney, on a global scale, is a popular condiment. It is used on meat, rice, and bread dishes; basically, any food that needs a bit of a flavor boost could use a little chutney. It can be made from veggies, fruits like lemons, and even herbs like mint! These ingredients are then mixed with a combination of vinegar, sugar, and other spices to create this magnificent tasting flavor-bomb you can put on anything and everything.

According to Sedo Snax, chutney originated in India about 1,500 years ago but is especially popular in South Africa today. South African chutney is a mouthwatering blend of sweet and spicy flavors commonly containing ingredients like tamarind, garlic, chilies, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, saffron, nutmeg, ginger, and more! It is vegan and gluten-free, which means it is accessible to many diets. A particular brand called "Mrs. Ball's Chutney" is a household item throughout South Africa and has been around for decades, but even though it may be widely beloved in kitchens down south, the chutney brand's origins are actually Canadian.

Mrs. Ball's Chutney

According to Mrs. Ball's website, back in 1852, a ship named the SS Quanza left Canadian ports and was making an oceanic route to Australia when it wrecked off the coast of East London, South Africa. Captain Adkins and his wife, Sarah, settled in the area and passed the recipe down to future generations, becoming a key ingredient in South African households.

This is a fun tale to tell around the dinner table as you pass a bottle of Ball's Chutney around, but Cape Town etc has a few scruples with the Ball's version of events. First and foremost, they claim that the SS Quanza shipwreck happened in 1872, not 1852. Secondly, it is said that the chutney recipe originally belonged to the chef of the Australia-bound ship, who was Indian. However it happened, it seems like the Adkins family did somehow get their hands on that recipe and made a life near what was once formerly called King Williams Town and is now Qonce. Sarah Adkins has had possession of the recipe since the 1870s and passed it down to her daughter, who eventually became Mrs. Ball. Whether the recipe truly belonged to the ship's chef or Sarah Adkins is up for debate, but either way, the SS Quanza's original dock in Canada may mean that Mrs. Ball's Chutney might have first been made on North American shores (via South Africans in the UK).