– Tips for using what you have on hand

VICTORIA BRETT

The Associated Press

With its sweet-and-sour, fruity and spicy flavors, chutney can be a challenging condiment to use beyond Indian cuisine. But those same flavors can turn ordinary meals into culinary wows.

“Chutneys have vinegar and sugar as their preserving ingredients, similar to a pickle,” says Beau MacMillan, chef and co-host of the Food Network’s upcoming reality show “Worst Cooks.” “This creates a great sweet-sour flavor that’s really versatile.”

Some of MacMillan’s favorite ways to use chutney include:

n Use sweet chutney atop something rich, like lamb. “I’ll use a spice rub on the lamb, grill it and top it with a mint and mango chutney. That chutney is also awesome with grilled chicken or a nice swordfish.”

n Serve it as a dip with tempura shrimp. Or thin the chutney with water, vinegar or chicken broth, then heat it for a warm dip.

n Use a red pepper and green onion chutney to flavor a ham sandwich on cheddar biscuits. This chutney also is great as a snack or appetizer with aged cheddar cheese and crackers.

n For a hot appetizer, top crackers with chutney, put the cheese on top and bake at 325 until the cheese melts. Or try it in a grilled cheese sandwich with Gouda.

n Mango chutney goes wonderfully with salty tortilla chips. You could even make a blend, stirring a few tablespoons of mango chutney into a jar of prepared salsa. Try the same blend over a baked potato topped with cheese.START WITH: CHUTNEY