Tomato Chutney

With several of my tomato plants in bloom there’s much to look forward to. The rest of the year I make do with the ‘vegetable’ from roadside vendors and veggie markets and this is the season when they literally flood the markets. Along with the rest of the veggies so widely available in this season, the  Love Apple or the Golden Apple holds its own unique position.

Can you believe that once the tomato was thought to be poisonous?  The myth arose because of its similarity with other plants of the nightshade family with toxic berries. Tomatoes, white potatoes, red and green bell peppers, chilli, paprika, and the eggplant belong to the Nightshade family, a botanical genus called Solanaceae species. This species also includes the poisonous belladonna, mandrake, tobacco, herbane and jimson weeds.

There’s a strip of soil alongside our bedroom wall where I plant the tomatoes every year. Last year I added coriander in between the spaces. Necessity is the mother.…. and all that. Well I was happy with the harvest. Every dish was lavishly garnished with coriander leaves grown between the tomato spaces. But this year I went a step further. Right against the wall several cosmos plants were lined up and planted.  The tomatoes came in front. Now when I go to check my plants or get some coriander I also manage to shoot a skipper or a cabbage white. I honestly thought that this butterfly was a bloom…till it moved! And since the names of the cultivars aren’t religiously used I was told that this was the Hybrid variety. No other info was revealed. Ah well, I still have my loyal re-seeders, the cherry tomatoes, which spring up faithfully year in and year out. Just like the nasturtiums. In places where you least expect a plant to survive! In a crevice on the wall, behind the water pipes, next to the water pump. I dig/gently pull them and plant them where they have a chance to grow and thrive. All the while I thank the the sun, the rain, the wind, and even the occasional storm.  Without them, the element of surprise or serendipity would never happen!

Although the tomato is an indispensable ingredient in many dishes patiently cooked or hurriedly rustled up, the chutney happens to be an all-time favourite. There are always variations in the way it’s cooked or in the ingredients used but the one that I make happens to be the basic (chutney). The ingredients are:

Mustard oil, jaggery, panch puran, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, tej patta (Indian bay leaf), chilli powder, a pinch of salt, dates, raisins and a small lump of tamarind. Apricots can be added for that extra special touch.

Jaggery is usually sold in large chunks from which the required amount is taken out. But it’s also moulded into these shapes. The darker one was stored in bamboo and had has taken that shape. Almost like a huge bar of dark chocolate! But what is jaggery? And how is it made? When sugarcane juice is boiled in huge iron pans, the colour turns brown and solid. It’s wholesome, traditional unrefined sugar with the natural goodness of minerals and vitamins inherently present in sugarcane. In Mexico and South America, it is known as panela. It is less stripped of natural ingredients and considered healthier than sugar. jaggery has always been made from sugar cane or date palms. But now the sap of coconut and sago palms are also used.

Panch puran, a mix of five spices is used in eastern Indian cooking. Literally it means the flavour of five (spices). The mixture consists of equal parts of fennel, cumin, fenugreek, mustard and nigella seeds.

And the recipe….Blanch and peel the tomatoes. Slice them. Grate the jaggery. Soak the dates and raisins in hot water for a few minutes. This makes it easier to stone the dates. The same goes for the dried apricots, if using. Heat oil. As soon as it comes to smoking point add the panch puran and the bay leaves. Add all the powdered spices with a little water. This is to assure that the spices do not burn and turn acrid. Then in go the sliced tomatoes. Keep stirring for a while. This may take seven to ten minutes. Then add the grated jaggery. Add the raisins/dates/apricots and let the mixture cook till beautifully blended. If you want a little tangy taste in the chutney you can add the tamarind, stir, and remove from the fire.

Voila! Here’s the chutney ready to be relished! Not the best photograph, I must say. Food photography is something I’ll have to work on this year. Goes very well with  the different varieties of Indian bread as well as rice.

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About Kanak Hagjer

Hello from north-east India! I love to blog about all things floral and foliar and sharing the beauty of my region is what I am most passionate about!
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34 Responses to Tomato Chutney

  1. Mildred says:

    Fresh tomatoes sound so good as does your chutney recipe. Such interesting information you have provided today Kanak and I love your beautiful blue china. Sending thoughts and prayers to you and yours.

    • kanak7 says:

      Mildred, guess what? All that crockery is Iranian. Thank goodness for the trade fairs that we have every year. We make it a point to buy stuff from the participating countries. Pakistan, Thailand, Kenya, Egypt, Turkey and Indonesia are regulars. My love and prayers for you and Nalley. I hope it isn’t that cold now….

  2. Wilma Lingle says:

    Your recipe sounds delicious, Kanak. Thanks for the explanation for jaggery and panch puran. The recipe and the photographs bring added warmth to my day. We have been below freezing for more than a month and won’t see tomato blossoms until June.

    • kanak7 says:

      Thanks Wilma, haven’t visited you for a while now but I’ll be there soon. my tomatoes will be over by June. I plant in December and the blooms appear around this time of the year. March and April are the best tomato months for me! The monsoon rains aren’t good for them. Don’t know how the commercial growers do it. Loved having you here:)

  3. johnson says:

    Finally came round to visit your new blog and so pleased that I have! You always write so interestingly about things and it is a pleasure to learn more of your region, which is very beautiful.

    Jaggery is something I’d not heard of but I shall have a go at the recipe even if I have to adapt it a bit. It sounds and looks delicious and I love making and eating chutney!

    Johnson

    • kanak7 says:

      Johnson, I’m so glad you visited!:-) And thank you so much for all your kind words! I thought jaggery was pretty well-known all across the world until I used the word once and realized it wasn’t. Which is why I made it a point to describe it and also post the photos.

      Sugar is always a good substitute. In fact some people prefer using sugar in this chutney. And preferences can always go back a long way. As children we’ve always had it with jaggery and I used to love the way my mother used to make it. And the tomatoes she used were always home-grown. My only additions are the dry fruits. That makes it extra special. i’m sure yours will come out well.

      I hope you have a great week!

  4. leavesnbloom says:

    Oh that is making me hungry reading this article of yours Kanak

    Thankyou for visiting my blog – Haste Ye Back Again as they say over here in Scotland

    🙂 Rosie

    • kanak7 says:

      Hi Rosie…how lovely to see you here again! Your peeling bark photos and the other foliage….still on my mind! love the Scottish term! have a great week!

  5. Andrea says:

    Congratulations Kanak on your newfound recipe. We cannot plant tomatoes anymore here in our property, a lot of pests and diseases and not much sun anymore because of the tall trees.

  6. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for this chutney recipe. I must admit that I am not a fan of chutney. But I know the Nepalese who are working in Malaysia like to eat them with rice. Some of my friends like chutney though. I am always curious how chutney is made. Now I know! Thank you. Btw, you picture is ok for me ;-D

    • kanak7 says:

      Steph…thanks! Especially for the last line…!! There are so many chutney variations and this is the cooked variety. There are many kinds of chutney consumed raw too. Goes very well with rice too.

      • Stephanie says:

        Raw chutney as well? That’s great. Btw, how are you doing Kanak? Hope is all well with you. Nonetheless, have a wonderful day!

      • kanak7 says:

        Steph, thanks. So sweet of you to leave this message. I’m back from a 10-day trip to my hometown and I’ll be posting soon. Have a pleasant evening!

  7. lotusleaf says:

    Thanks for the recipe which I always wanted. Your food pictures are quite good.

  8. wendy says:

    My goodness you’ve done a lot of work on this post! And such lovely pics too. I learn so much when I come here! It’s so nice to visit.

    I almost missed that white butterfly on the cosmos. It blends in so well.
    Happy cooking – and eating!

    • kanak7 says:

      Wendy,I’ve been thinking about how interests change. When I first started blogging it was only about gardening, then the bugs became a priority but now I’d love to combine gardening and recipes. The simplest ones, of course! so my posts will be longer than usual from now on. Always love having you over.

      Have a lovely weekend!

  9. james says:

    I had just drop by and found your wonderful blog.
    Really amazing to note all the plants & fauna.
    And also enjoyed your tomato chutney receipe. (Now, I have to keep that in mind in adding that into my dishes)

    (Would like to know where do I click to become a blog-follower?)

  10. LindaLunda says:

    For me this is realy exotic!!! Pleace can I come to dinner at your place?
    Linda

  11. Gururaj says:

    Wow! That looks delicious and I can visualize the taste from the combination of spices you have used. I am looking at chutney in a new light – all these days I thought chutney generally consisted of edibles that were squashed and ground to small particles – this chutney looks good!

    • kanak7 says:

      Gururaj, that’s right. if you think about the literal translation, that’s how it’s supposed to be;) But this kind of chutney made with various sour fruit (star fruit, ber, Indian olives) turn ou to be yummy! How lovely to have you stop by!

  12. Autumn Belle says:

    This looks extremely delicious. After enjoying the beautiful blooms in your garden, I’d like to join you for dinner.

    • kanak7 says:

      Autumn Belle, would love to have you over:-) Maybe the sleeping hibiscus is planted everywhere because the blooms are used in Hindu rituals too. Very common around these parts.

  13. Titania says:

    The Tomato chutney looks and sounds delicious and healthy. I always make some to keep and give away. It is so good and so easy to use a big amount of tomatoes. (mine is on titania-
    three monkeys 19. dec. Tomatoes essence of summer, if you are interested.
    I think it is also good for the tomato plants to grow in company of other plants like your coriander or the beautiful, delicate Cosmos.

    • kanak7 says:

      Trudi, what a pleasure to read your comment. I was away visiting my parents and was out of blogdom. I’ll surely check out your tomato post. See you soon!:)

  14. joey says:

    Oh yum, Kanak! Your tomato chutney looks/sounds heavenly. (Wish I had a spoon 🙂

  15. Anonymous says:

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the great work Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  16. esha flora says:

    visit you here….Your tomato chutney looks delicious

  17. Pingback: Roselle & Edible Fern | Terra farmer

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