As Sauce By Any Name is Still a Sauce (Thus Salsa and Chutney are Just “Sauces”)
Although they refer to specific types of sauces in specific regions, the terms “Salsa” and “Chutney,” essentially both just mean “sauce.” Technically speaking, although we have a thousand fancy names for sauces, a sauce by any name is still a sauce.
“Gravy” is another example of a word that sometimes describes a specific type of sauce and other times describes a range of sauces (depending on which region the term is being used in). In Italian American culture a ragù pasta sauce can be described as “gravy” (“Sunday Gravy”), and in parts of Asia, particularly India, Malaysia, and Singapore, the word “gravy” is used to refer to any thickened liquid part of a dish (like with a curry).
Thus, it isn’t like the specific terms don’t have their own sets of meanings, it is just that what they mean can change and specifically the terms “salsa” and “chutney” just mean sauce (its obvious when you sound out the word “salsa”).
Condiment, dip, gastrique, coulis, dressing (when describing for example “salad dressing”), marinara, sofrito, sambal, holladaise, mayonnaise, béarnaise, demi-glace, velouté, or béchamel etc. These are all just fancy names for different styles of sauces.
Thus, we have two different naming structures. We have terms like Sauce, Salsa, and Chutney, which all literally mean sauce on one hand but infer specific types of sauces based on the region we are referring to them to on the other. Then we have names that specifically infer specific types of sauces wherever we are like sofrito, demi-glace, and gastrique.
Essentially anything runny or chunky that you dip into, immerse a dish in (like with a curry), or put on top of a dish, by any name, is a “sauce.”
From there, it just becomes about what type of sauce you are referring to and in which part of the world you are referring to it.
Like hoagie, sub, and sandwich, or soda and pop, in part its just a matter of semantics based on region, and in part there is something a little more specific being conveyed by the use of specific terms.
Are you talking about the sauce you dip into in India, that is chutney. Are you talking about the sauce you dip into or pour on top of food in Mexico, that is salsa. Are you talking about a bottle of hot sauce in the United States?
The words we use matter, but the end of the day, its all just sauce.
FACT: Coulis is generally a dessert sauce. Again, we have a fancy name for a specific type of sauce. Coulis, though, like the rest, is ultimately just “sauce.”
- What is the difference between a salsa, a sauce, a gravy, and a chutney?
Like a number of other terms noted on this page (for example chutney), salsa is just one of many words for sauce.
In Mexican cuisine what we call salsa in the united states is just a common “sauce” in Mexico (although Mole is also a sauce… and by the way, the term Mole also means sauce).