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How to Make Tomato Chutney Recipe – The Perfect Condiment

Written by the YesChef staff

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Chef Asma Khan in her Kolkata kitchen teaches Indian Cuisine
Chef Asma Khan in her Kolkata kitchen teaches Indian Cuisine
Asma Khan
Teaches her Indian Cuisine
Chutney, a wonderful staple of Indian cuisine, enhances the flavor of all sorts of foods – in India and beyond. Chutney is made in many different varieties and is surely one of the most delicious condiments in not only South Asia but in the world! Popular chutney recipes include mint, mango, tamarind, and coconut. In this article, we will focus on one of the tastiest chutneys of all: tomato chutney. You are about to learn all about tomato chutney, a condiment typically served with South Indian dishes. You will learn what tomato chutney is, how to use tomato chutney, and how legendary chef Asma Khan executes her own tomato chutney recipe. By the end of this lesson you will have learned both the fundamentals and some expert tips to creating a tomato chutney that is both delicious and easy to make.
Asma Khan
Teaches her Indian Cuisine

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What Is Tomato Chutney?

Tomato chutney is a beautiful bright red mixture of tomatoes, herbs, and spices. Known as thakkali chutney, this versatile side dish is served with so many Indian foods, from street snacks like samosas to flatbreads such as dosa. Its tomato-based flavor means you can use tomato chutney as an appetizer dip or as a spread for sandwiches. Tomato chutney (along with coriander chutney and coconut chutney) is among the most popular South Indian chutney recipes.

A Brief Chutney History

Chutney was being eaten, it is believed, as a sauce on the Indian subcontinent more than 2,000 years ago. The word “chutney” originates from the Hindi word chatni, which translates as “to lick.” At some point the Romans began eating it, and later the British – and now chutney is consumed across the globe. But chutney, including the tomato variety, remains most popular in the South Asian countries of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Tomato Chutney Health Benefits

If you were to review the “Nutrition Facts” label for a standard tomato chutney recipe, you would likely be impressed with the absence of unhealthy ingredients. Nutrition-wise, a typical tomato chutney recipe will yield healthy amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C (tomatoes are extremely rich in Vitamin C, which in a tomato chutney recipe will likely boast the highest Daily Value percentage per serving of any other nutrient), and the important minerals calcium and potassium. Its number of calories from fat are few; tomato chutney is low in saturated fat and the amount per serving of monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat in tomato chutney is similarly small. The garlic present in the recipe is excellent for the immune system and the prevention of numerous diseases, making the dish a superb one for the nutrition-conscious. Furthermore, tomato chutney is gluten free, and acts as a terrific, tasty side dish in any vegan or vegetarian diet.

How to Use Tomato Chutney

Tomato chutney can be used in a variety of ways. You can serve tomato chutney at room temperature or you can serve it cold. It can be eaten with samosas or any other kind of chaat, the popular South Indian street food. You can serve it as a dip for flatbreads like parathas. It can be used with different types of dosa – the crisp crepes of Southern India – and with an assortment of Indian pancakes.

Tomato chutney is even an awesome alternative to ketchup if you want something delicious to eat hamburgers or hot dogs with or to dip your French fries into. In Southern India, the food is eaten as a breakfast condiment to complement ponga, which is a rice dish; rava dosa, a crispy crepe made with semolina as well as green chilis, ginger, cumin, and coriander leaves; and pesarattu, a thin, protein-rich crepe made with spices such as ginger and cumin and whole green gram, also known as mung beans.

Dosa and Chutney: A Delicious Combination

Dosa is a crispy pancake, made from a batter with fermented rice and lentils, that is widely consumed for breakfast in the South of India. While coconut chutney is often paired as a condiment with it, tomato chutney is a frequent complement to dosa as well. Some common dosa varieties with which tomato chutney is eaten are sada dosa, which is a plain dosa; paper dosa, a thin, flaky, extra-long dosa; and masala dosa, which is packed with tasty potatoes and spices.

Types of Chutney

In India, there are many types of chutney aside from tomato chutney. There is apple chutney, which is made from diced apples, sugar, spices, and butter along with citrus juice or vinegar. There is green chutney, also known as hari chutney, an aromatic blend of fresh herbs such as cilantro and mint combined with salt, sugar, citrus juice, and spicy green chilis. There is mango chutney, which is a sweet mix of mangoes and spices along with sugar and white wine vinegar.

Other kinds of chutney are onion chutney, which features red chilis and toasted lentils along with onions and shallots; coconut chutney, which has fresh coconuts, lentils, chilis, ginger, and curry leaves; and tamarind chutney, which is used as a sweet and tangy dip. You can also cook chutney featuring red garlic or mint. Some chutneys are on the sweeter side while others are packed with intense heat. Red garlic chutney is particularly full of heat and flavor.

How to Make Tomato Chutney

Tomato chutney is a food that is easy to make and does not require a lengthy prep time. Here’s one way to start making a tomato chutney recipe: Begin by washing ripe tomatoes with water, shallowly cutting the skin with an ‘X’, and then peeling the tomatoes before chopping or slicing them. Alternatively, you can use a food processor or immersion blender, in which case peeling the tomato skin is not necessary.

Asma’s tomato chutney recipe calls for whole cumin seeds, red chilis, ginger, garlic, salt, and sugar as its ingredients. Into a hot pan she pours sunflower oil, after which Asma snaps apart her red chilis to add heat to the dish. (Don’t break apart the chilis if you don’t want your chutney spicy, Asma warns.) Next, ginger and garlic go into the pan, both of which are chopped to avoid creating a paste.

Asma’s recipe calls for you to toss in your tomatoes and add salt (but not too much salt; you can always add more salt later) and a good amount of sugar, which in addition to its important role as a sweetener also acts as a preservative, enabling the tomato chutney to last a few days in a jar. While Asma breaks apart her red chilis to give her chutney a kick, there are other ways to add heat to your plate too, if you prefer. To make a spicy tomato chutney recipe, you can also add green chilis or simply add a higher amount of red chili powder like dried Kashmiri chili or paprika.

Tomato Chutney Recipe Tips

The following tips and tricks will help you maximize the efficiency and taste of your tomato chutney recipe. Add these pointers to your recipe card to improve this recipe significantly:
  • After tossing all of the ingredients into your pan (which should be set to a flame between medium heat and high heat) watch your pan closely, Asma says, so that your pieces of ginger and garlic color slightly but don’t burn. 
  • Asma advises against using any kind of flavored oil with which to cook tomato chutney. In her dish she uses sunflower oil, which has a neutral taste. 
  • On the stove, reduce the boil of your boiling-hot chutney “until it’s silent,” Asma says, with an “occasional sputter coming through.” Depending on how much water is being released with the tomatoes, Asma says, the chutney should cook in approximately 20 or 30 minutes. 
  • Can other types of fruit work in this tomato chutney recipe? Asma says yes; she advocates using apples – or other fruits including pears and cranberries – in place of tomatoes if you prefer.

Other Ideas for Tomato Chutney Recipes

According to some recipes, you can add any of the following ingredients to your tomato chutney. These include urad dal, curry leaves, mustard seeds, red wine vinegar, brown sugar, black pepper, onions, tamarind, and garlic.

Urad Dal: Recipes for tomato chutney often recommend that you add a teaspoon or so of urad dal, which is a lentil-like bean commonly used in South Indian dishes. Urad dal is high in protein and fiber and can add a nice nutritional boost to recipes. (Note: While 1 tsp urad dal is the most often recommended amount, other tomato chutney recipes suggest that you add ½ tsp urad dal or 2 tsp urad dal.)

Chana Dal: Split chickpea lentils, or chana dal, can also be incorporated into your chutney. Chana dal can be used in combination with – or instead of – urad dal and can add a nice boost of nutrition to this side dish.

Curry Leaves: To add an herby, citrus-like taste to your tomato chutney, you can incorporate some curry leaves.

Mustard Seeds: For a nice complementary spice, you can add mustard seeds to recipes for tomato chutney. Black mustard seeds should be used if you prefer to add a stronger, spicier flavor while yellow mustard seeds will be better for producing a milder taste. (1 tsp mustard seeds is a common suggested amount)

Red Wine Vinegar: Some recipes suggest that you add red wine vinegar. Its purpose is to enhance the recipe with a complex, acidic flavor.

Brown Sugar: For another slight variation, some recipes for tomato chutney call for you to add brown sugar (and / or honey) instead of white sugar.

Black Pepper: For a sharp and earthy kick to help intensify the flavors of other ingredients in your chutneys, add some black pepper to your recipe.

Onions: Chopped onions are also sometimes added to recipes for tomato chutney. Also, onion tomato chutney, which is made with red chilis and chana dal in addition to tomatoes and onions, is a popular South Indian condiment.

Tamarind: Tamarind, an intense spice, is often added to a tomato chutney recipe as well.

What Type of Tomatoes to Use?

Any fresh ripe tomatoes are ideal for your tomato chutney recipe. But the flavor of the tomatoes you use – whether they’re fresh tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes – may vary based on how ripe the tomatoes are, what season it is, and the individual variety of tomato. For a uniquely fresh and sweet tasting tomato chutney, you can use cherry tomatoes if you are lucky enough to grow your own tomatoes or have access to a local farmers market.

What Type of Oil Should You Cook Chutney With?

Asma uses sunflower oil for its neutral taste. Mustard oil, a strong-flavored oil, is commonly used to make chutney in Bengali cooking. Other oils that can be used to cook chutney include olive oil or peanut oil, although any type of vegetable oil can be employed in the effort.

Asma Khan’s Tomato Chutney Recipe

Serves:
|
Hands-on: 40 min
|
Total: 2 hrs

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
    Whole
  • 4 dried red chili peppers
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
    Sliced into slivers.
  • 6 cloves garlic
    Crushed and finely chopped.
  • 1 1/2 kilograms fresh tomatoes
    Chopped (Substitute with 800 grams of tinned tomatoes).
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 fresh chili peppers

 

GEAR

  • Shallow pan
  • Mortar & pestle
  • Knife
  • Cutting board

Recipe

  • Heat the pan on a medium-high flame.
  • Add the oil.
  • Add the whole cumin seeds.
  • Then, break the red chili peppers with your hand and add to the pan.
  • Add the ginger and garlic.
  • Stir well and make sure the ginger and garlic do not become brown.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and stir.
  • Add the sugar and salt and mix.
  • Bring the tomatoes to a boil.
  • Then lower the heat and cook on a simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until all the liquid has reduced.
  • Add the chillies when the mixture has reduced to the point when liquid bubbles are no longer visible.
  • Continue to cook the chutney till there is a glaze on top and the liquid of the tomatoes has reduced.
  • If this final process is taking longer than 10 minutes.
  • Remove the fresh chillies as they will break down and become very spicy.
  • Taste and adjust the salt and sugar balance.
  • This chutney can stay for a week in the fridge.
  • When serving you could garnish with whole green chillies.
Chef Asma Khan in her Kolkata kitchen teaches Indian Cuisine
Chef Asma Khan in her Kolkata kitchen teaches Indian Cuisine

Asma Khan

Asma Khan, owner of famed London eatery Darjeeling Express and bestselling cookbook author of “Asma’s Indian Kitchen” teaches her favorite family recipes, inspired by her childhood in Kolkata, India. The chef, restaurateur, and activist is the first UK-based chef to be featured on Netflix’s Emmy-nominated Chef’s Table and, in 2019, was listed number 1 on Business Insider’s ranking of “100 Coolest People in Food and Drink”. Join Asma on a nostalgic culinary journey to explore the smells, flavors, and ingredients of her ancestral Bengali roots.

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