Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tomato Chutney

 I couldn't resist photographing these tomatoes that we got from a wayside market with a backdrop of my tomato plants. A harvest that anyone would be proud of! As I write this a tray of tomato discs are being dried in the sun and I made some chutney with about a dozen of them. Apart from adding to salads,dal and other curries, chutney is one thing that I usually make since we are so fond of the taste. It's timeless and most of us surely remember our mothers making the same from fresh produce from flourishing backyard kitchen gardens.

The spices used in the chutney. From left: cumin, chilli, coriander, turmeric, and panch phoran/puran a mix of five spices used to flavour dal, pickles and several kinds of curry. The mix consists of fennel, cumin, fenugreek, mustard and nigella seeds.

The other ingredients that went into the chutney are: jaggery, tejpatta, dates, dried chillies and apricots.

For a little more zing and tang I threw in some dried roselle as well. Sometimes I use tamarind too.

Finally the chuney, a mix of sweet, sour and a little spicy. Goes very well with Indian flatbreads.

1 dozen ripe and firm tomatoes
A few Indian bay leaves/tejpatta
2 dried red chillis,
Half a cup of grated jaggery (more if you want it sweeter)
Salt to taste
7-8 dates, seeds removed and roughly chopped
10 apricots, soaked and seeds removed
Half a teaspoon of panch puran
1 level tsp cumin powder
1 heaped tsp coriander powder
1 quarter tsp turmeric powder
Chilli powder (according to taste)
A few dried roselle (calyces/seedpods) or tamarind
2 tbsp mustard oil

  • Blanch the tomatoes and peel them. Remove eyes and chop them up. Keep aside.
  • Heat the mustard oil in a pan. When it comes to smoking point add the panch puran, the dried chillis, and the bay leaves.
  • Add the rest of the spices along with a bit of the liquid from the blanched tomatoes so that the spices do not burn.
  • Add the tomatoes and keep cooking till the juices are reduced. Then add the dates and the apricots. The apricots can be roughly chopped as well. A bit of salt can be added now.
  • When the mixture looks done, add the soaked roselle and the grated jaggery.
  • As soon as the jaggery melts, the dish can be removed from the fire. Check the seasoning and make the necessary adjustments, if needed.
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