Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tomato Chutney

Tomato Chutney
Our neighbours and friends grow beautiful blemish-free tomatoes during the summer and we are blessed with their bounty. The 6 yr-old boy next door with the help of his friend set up a little table by the curbside, giving away the cutest home-grown cherry tomatoes. They were free, we were told, with the only stipulation that only 8 tomatoes were allowed per person. They provided the ziploc bags and the two boys had the time of their lives, waving down passing cars and neighbours taking a walk.

Another friend invited me over for lunch and filled up a whole bag with plum tomatoes that looked like mini-roma tomatoes. Yet another friend grew regular-size roma tomatoes, so all this bounty resulted in a delicious chutney.

Mum made this chutney on festive occasions which is where the recipe is derived. I used a quarter pound of date jaggery (khejur-er gur in Bengali) which gave the chutney a depth of flavour that is almost impossible to achieve with plain sugar. The jaggery combined with very thin slivers of ginger, diced tomatoes and raisins were all that were needed to make this chutney. 

It was easy to make and basically cooked on medium-low heat with little intervention. Served as an accompaniment to any Indian meal, this chutney gives a festive air to a gathering of friends to celebrate the fall season.

3 lbs. tomatoes, blanched, peeled and diced
2 heaped Tbsp. ginger, julienned
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup date or other jaggery (or brown sugar)
1 tsp. red chili flakes (Korean gochugaru has no seeds)
1/4 cup apple-cider or white vinegar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. Bengali 5-spice/panch phoron
2 cinnamon sticks, left whole
2 big, black cardamom pods, split
1/4 tsp. salt

  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat and sputter 5-spice seeds, cinnamon and cardamom until aromatic.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  3. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down.
  4. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for half an hour.
  5. Adjust sweetness to taste. 
  6. The chutney is ready when all liquid evaporates.
  7. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator before serving.
Store left-overs in the refrigerator.

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