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Tomato chutney

Seven years ago we tried to make tomato chutney, and I was so disappointed by it that I haven’t bothered to attempt it again, until recently. Madhur Jaffrey’s book, World of the East Vegetarian Cooking, offers several variations on this tart condiment, and encouraged me to try again. That, and a desire to use up more garden produce.

tomato chutney in a jar

Possible uses: With cheese, on eggs, or in sandwiches. A ketchup substitute. Or even a tomato paste substitute, if you want something with more perk.

This recipe made about 2 cups, enough to fit into an ex-honey jar. I didn’t go through the sterilization procedure for such a small amount; I’d advise doing so for much larger batches that would sit around, though. Our jar is in the fridge now, and will hopefully last a month or three.

Update (11 Sept 2010): For this year’s batch (6x the recipe below, to boot!), I added a couple large pinches of dried methi leaves (same plant as fenugreek, so I reduced the amount of the seed powder), a couple of black cardamom pods, and some paprika and hot Indian chile powders because we didn’t grow paprika chile peppers this year — we substituted with some “New Mexico Improved” chiles, for color and balance. I also reduced the amount of ginger somewhat, and didn’t need to add as much palm sugar or vinegar ‘coz the tomatoes had a good level of sweet ‘n sour.

Fruits & vegetables

  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons grated ginger root
  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 to 3 paprika chile peppers (fresh or dried), seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons dried curry leaves
  • 1 small to medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

Spices & other flavorings

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds (black or yellow)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • 1/4 c + 2 tablespoons white vinegar, more or less, depending on acidity of tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 ounces palm sugar, more or less, depending on sweetness of tomatoes
  • salt, to taste


  1. Peel the tomatoes. One way is to blanch them: Make a cross-cut on the bottom of each tomato, then dunk them in boiling water for 10 to 20 seconds. Cool until easy to handle, then with a paring knife remove as much of the skin as possible.
  2. Chop the tomatoes into a small dice, then place them in a bowl. Stir in the ginger, garlic, paprika, and curry leaves. Set aside.
  3. In a large sauce pan (or stock pot, for large batches), sauté the onion in the oil over medium-high heat until translucent.
  4. Add to the onions the cumin, turmeric, coriander, mustard, garam masala, and fenugreek. Stir until the mixture becomes fragrant.
  5. Pour the tomato mixture into the onion pot. Stir in the vinegar and palm sugar.
  6. Allow to simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes until thickened to chutney consistency. 🙂 It might take longer for larger batches. Stir every 5 to 10 minutes so that the chutney doesn’t burn or stick. Midway through the simmering, check the seasoning by adding salt (I used 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt). Also test the level of tartness and sweetness. Stir in more vinegar and/or sugar if the flavor isn’t bright enough for your tastes (e.g., for blander tomatoes).
  7. Store in covered jars in the refrigerator.

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