What Is Piccalilli, Exactly? (Answer: Your New Favorite Condiment)

What Is Piccalilli, Exactly? (Answer: Your New Favorite Condiment)

There are a bazillion condiments in the world, but let's hone in on chutneys, because piccalilli will be your new favorite thing to spread on a sandwich.
February 22, 2017, 3:00pm

In America, we love our condiments, but we stick to (what we consider to be) the basics. Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and ranch dressing; peanut butter and its BFF jelly; and maybe some marmalade, tartar sauce, barbecue sauce, or relish if you're feeling really crazy. We think of ourselves as awfully seasoned in the spreadables world, but hop on a plane and blow this popsicle stand, and you'll realize that we kinda don't know shit.

We owe China for our soy sauce and hoisin, Japan for teriyaki and ponzu, and Southeast Asia for fish sauce and a countless variety of delicious chili pastes. India is home to mouthwatering chutneys, while their South and Central American counterparts are the infinite rainbow of salsas. Take to the Middle East and North Africa for harissa and tahini. In England and Australia, you'll find devotees to Marmite and its cousin Vegemite.


OK, you get it. There are a bazillion types of condiments in the world. But let's hone in on chutneys again, because piccalilli is your new favorite one.

With an adorable name and delightfully tangy taste, piccalilli is a spicy vegetable chutney—chilies, cumin, turmeric, shallots, mustard, oregano, and nutmeg all feature—that keeps forever when properly jarred and is delicious on pretty much anything. It's Britain's take on Indian pickles, and it goes perfectly on a sandwich of ham, eggs, and "chips," for instance.

This recipe from Max Halley of Max's Sandwich Shop in North London may sound weird—broccoli, fennel, cauliflower, and green beans mixing with garlic, mustard, Granny Smith apples and mango? what?—but we assure you that the result is true to tasty piccalilli form. In addition to sandwiches, it's great with meat or eggs, or simply served on toast. There are quite a few ingredients, but prep is easy.

RECIPE: Homemade Piccalilli

Think of it as the anglophile's version of banana pepper relish. Put it on your hot dog, and make American and British condiment traditions proud at the same time.