Indian Style Tomato Chutney

I adore condiments with my food no matter what the origin of the food. Chutneys, mustards, jellies, pickles, dressings – you name it, I love to have the option of having them on my plate supporting the meats and/or vegetables and giving the dish that extra added dimension. So you can just imagine how in heaven I was when Mr B’s grandmother, known as Dida, cooked this simple tomato chutney for us when we visited her in Kolkata a while ago. We were all given a little bowl of the chutney to eat alongside our dal and vegetable dishes and it tasted sublime. The combination of hot and spicy with sweet undertones  made the chutney completely addictive.

Tomatoes are to me what I imagine chocolate is to many people. I could give up eating chocolate tomorrow, but tomatoes……well that would be seriously hard. In fact for Easter my parents gave me a tomato plant instead of a chocolate egg, knowing that I would get more enjoyment out of that than a chocolate egg.  I eat tomatoes pretty much everyday and without doubt they are my absolute favourite fruit as they are just so versatile and can completely transform dishes. If you have any tomato recipes that you think I would like please send me an email to chilliandmint@gmail.com as I would love to try them.

With this recipe you can keep it simple and just use tomatoes, but I like to add a little dried fruit so as to blend the flavours. You can add a couple of dried prunes, dates, apricots or mango. Experiment and see which you like to compliment with the tomato.

Dida cooks her chutney without the tomato skins on, however, for speed and because I don’t mind them, I have left the tomato skins on. If you prefer a smoother texture then simply boil the tomatoes in a pan of boiling water for five minutes and then strain them and you will find the tomato skins easily come away from the body of the tomato.

Indian Style Tomato Chutney

Makes 1 bowl, 4-6 servings

300g tomatoes, chopped in half if using cherry and quartered if using larger size

1 inch of ginger, grated or chopped finely

2 dried red chillies

1 tsp black mustard seeds

1 tbsp olive/mustard/nut oil

1/4 (quarter) tsp salt

4 tsp sugar (to taste)

3 slices of Aam Shatwa (dried mango), or dried apricots, dried prunes, dried dates – optional

1. Warm the oil in a pan and when it is hot place the two dried red chillies into the oil. You want to fry them until they turn black, which will take a few minutes. For those of you who have seen or made my homemade mango chutney you will remember that frying the dried chillies will make you cough. My mother-in-law assures me that it helps those with nasal congestion, so if you have any issues in this area get involved at this part of the recipe as it is sure to help your ailment!

2. When the dried red chillies have blackened add the remaining ingredients and stir. The tomatoes will release juice as they warm in the pan. Squash the tomatoes with the back of a fork so that they become limp. Taste the chutney and add extra sugar if required.

3. Leave to simmer for 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes have completely softened and then transfer into a bowl to cool. Serve at room temperature.

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Homemade Mango Chutney

Warmer weather beckons (I hope!) at the end of the week when I’ll be in the sunny Florida Keys and art deco Miami. I was last in the Keys when I was 19 so it’s been some time since I visited its warm shores and admired its glorious sunsets. There is always so much to get ready before embarking on a long journey and since I pride myself on my packing it is left up to me to pack all the clothes. There is definitely an art to effective packing right! The truth of the matter is I hate packing, seriously it is so tedious and tricky to get the balance on what exactly to take. I am hoping that since it will be warmer then in London, I won’t have to take too many clothes and the ones I do will be light weight cotton. Well that’s the plan.

There is nothing that screams sunshine and warm weather more than mangoes. They are undoubtedly the queen of fruits and whilst the yellow ones are juicy and sweet, the unripe ones – they are the green ones by the way – are perfect for chutney making. The sourness combined with spice and salt is a perfect winning combination and cools down the body in hot temperatures. In India a few spoonfuls of the chutney either alongside or after some spicy dal or curry works a treat.

We have all sampled the mango chutney served in curry houses when we order poppadums,  however nothing prepares you for the true deliciousness of this knock out, authentic, fresh mango chutney. It tastes completely different and I love the sweet, sour, salty combination.

Mango Chutney

(or affectionately known as Aam-er Tok by Bengali speakers, which actually translates as sour mango)

Fills a small bowl/jam jar (can last in the fridge for up to a week)

2 small unripe green mangoes/1 large regular green mango, which you find in British supermarkets, skin removed and then sliced or diced

1 tsp mustard/groundnut/vegetable oil

 1 large dried red chilli, cut into two pieces (or 2-3 small dried red chilli)

1 tsp panch phoron 

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 tsp freshly grated ginger (optional)

2 tsp plain flour

three quarters of a tsp salt

110 ml cold water

2/3 tbsp sugar

1. Peel the mango skin and discard. Slice or dice the mango and keep the stone if you are using a larger mango as they are good to suck on post cooking! If you have really unripe green mangoes, which can be very sour, it is best to boil the sliced mangoes in a little water, with a pinch of salt, to remove part of the acidity for two minutes. Discard the water and put the mangoes to one side.

2. Place the oil in a pan and gently heat. When it is hot add the dried red chilli, including the seeds and fry the chilli gently until it darkens slightly in colour, which will take no more than a minute. Warning: you are likely to cough at this stage as the chilli darkens  so do not be alarmed!

3. Add the panch phoron, turmeric and ginger (if adding) to the hot oil as well as the soft mango, salt and 75 ml of water.

4. In a separate bowl add the flour and 35ml of cold water to create a white, smooth liquid. Immediately add this to the pan and stir it into the mangoes. At this stage also add the sugar.

5. Boil gently for 5-6 minutes. If you prefer to have a runnier chutney add a little more water, however, if you prefer a thicker consistency then you will need to boil it for longer.

6. Leave to cool and chill. Serve at either chilled or room temperature, but not hot.

It is wonderful to eat after a heavy curry as it helps to cleanse the palate and digest your food.

Note: In hot climates people tend to prefer the chutney with a stronger sour undertone and as such the amount of sugar they add is less. For those who prefer a sweeter taste then add the amount of sugar that I have specified above.