Living the Good Life…

My food blog & cookbook in progress

Red chutneys

By far the most common base ingredient of the red chutneys is tomato, although there is at least one red pepper chutney I make without any. I find tomato chutneys one of the easiest things to make when in a fix or beset by a sudden qualm about the adequacy of a menu. The best thing is, that one can adapt the other ingredients to best complement the rest of the meal. To plagiarize and paraphrase Jiminy Cricket: ♫ … always let your taste-buds be your guide ♬

Tomato pacchidi

Dedication: this chutney was a particular favorite of Manish, one of the original 4 residents of our Livingston St. apartment in New Haven and I’ve been promising him the recipe forever. So this recipe is definitely dedicated to him 😉

Heat mustard seeds in oil (light sesame or ordinary cooking oil) and as they begin to sputter add a generous pinch of asafoetida, a few fenugreek seeds (use sparingly — 1/2 tsp maybe), plenty of finely chopped fresh ginger root, and chopped fresh green chillies to taste. Stir once and then add coarsely chopped tomatoes (cut into eighths), 1 tsp of turmeric powder, salt to taste, and just a little sugar to cut the acid. When the mixture begins to bubble, turn heat down and cook down the mixture till it begins to thicken. Allow to cool and check for seasoning, and adjust according to desired flavor. You can serve this chutney at room temperature or cold. In general it goes well with South Indian food.

Note: This base of spices can also be used to make a tamarind chutney. In that case, you want to soak the tamarind in warm water first, and work at the mass with your fingers to create a pulpy mixture. Remove seeds and debris of skin, and add the pulp to the seasoned oil, to which you may also add several tsp of sesame seeds. Boil the mixture down to desired consistency. This version will not be as chunky as the tomato chutney since tamarind is a fruit in a pod and lacks the consistency of the tomato fruit. But it is just as tasty, if not more, than its red cousin.

Five-spice tomato chutney

Heat some oil in a pan and add several teaspoons of the Bengali five-spice mix (panch phoron). When the mustard in the mix starts to sputter add a few whole or halved cloves of peeled garlic along with a few dried red chillies. Stir for a few seconds and then add tomatoes, turmeric, salt, a pinch of sugar and a pinch of cayenne pepper (chilli powder) if desired. Cook down till the juices given off by the tomatoes evaporate and the mixture starts to thicken.

Variations: I once made this one with golden yellow tomatoes, and found the visual effect so pleasing, that I was inspired to try a similar concoction using half-ripened peaches on another occasion. Peaches pair so well with ginger that I use chopped ginger root in addition to or along with garlic. I’ve made the peach version when I’ve been disappointed with the quality of the fruit. Don’t bother to peel the peaches – the peels add some interesting color and texture. Green tomatoes and tomatillos have also served as a nice base for both this and the previous tomato chutney. And try a brand new variation… with kiwis – recipe here.

This page ain’t quite done yet… I’ll post more chutney recipes by and by




2 Comments»

  Swiss Kitsch « Peregrine chronicles wrote @

[…] Tomato chutney (with garlic, ginger and lots of chillies) […]

  South meets south | Living the Good Life… wrote @

[…] tomato chutney, using the gingery pacchidi recipe I posted a long time […]


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