The Versatile Tomato Chutney

Time sure does fly and work has only been getting busier every day. We sometimes wish we had a magic wand to slow down the clock.

photo 1(2)We realized over the weekend that our schedules were going to be too hectic during the week to be able to focus on anything outside of work obligations. It is during days like this when we come home and yearn for some delicious comfort food that will help us recover from a long, hard day at work.  Knowing very well it was going to be near impossible to whip up a yummy meal in the evenings and to resist our temptation to dine out, we decided to be proactive and made our versatile tomato chutney over the weekend.

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Tomato chutney otherwise known as “thokku” in Tamil is specific to South India. It is usually made with a fresh vegetable or fruit and cooked with spices to augment the flavor and increase the shelf life.

This no-fuss chutney recipe is so easy to make. We are sure many of you reading this post have your own versions of it. Although this is normally eaten as a side or to enhance a meal, we steered away from tradition and used it to make many simple, quick and delicious meals. Our favorites were as a spread on a sandwich teamed with some delicious mint chutney & fresh veggies for lunch, a tangy & spicy vinaigrette for a summer salad, a marinade for tofu grilled for another sandwich, an accompaniment with crispy dosas and many more. To our surprise in spite of the commonality, each dish turned out unique in its own way.

Ingredients (makes 20 tbsp or 10 oz chutney)photo 3(1)

  • 7 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 medium tomatoes finely chopped
  • ½ tbsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tbsp urad daal
  • ½ tbsp cumin seeds
  • 4 curry leaves
  • pinch of asafetida
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder 
  • ½ tbsp tamarind juice
  • salt to taste

Heat the oil in a pan. When the oil is hot add the mustard seeds. Once they have popped add the urad daal, cumin seeds, asafetida and curry leaves. Once they brown a little add in the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients. Now begins the process of stirring the tomatoes every 5 to 10 minutes on medium heat as they slowly cook. Add additional oil if you need to prevent the tomatoes from sticking to the pan. Our cooking time was about 45 minutes. You will know it’s done when the oil separates and forms a layer at the top and the tomatoes turn into a thick, pasty consistency. Your tangy, spicy tomato chutney is now ready.

Our all-time favorite use of the chutney was as a dressing on a salad with baby spinach, heirloom tomatoes from our local farmer’s market, sliced red onions, a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds and feta. To make a vinaigrette whisk 1 tsp chutney, 3 tsp fresh organic grapefruit juice, a couple of sprigs of mint & cilantro finely minced, 5 tbsp olive oil, salt & pepper. This will give you about a 1/4 cup of dressing.

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Our second favorite use was to marinate slabs of tofu in the chutney overnight. We then then grilled the tofu and used it in a sandwich with avocados, red onions, moong bean sprouts on bread brushed with olive oil and of course more chutney.

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Nutrition Facts (for chutney)

Number of Servings : 20
Serving Size : 2 tbsp
Total Calories per serving : 87
Total Fat 10 gms
Saturated Fat 1.5 gms
Trans Fat 0
Cholesterol 0
Total Carbs 14.3 gms
Dietary Fiber 4.4 gms
Sugars   No Added Sugar
Protein  3.2 gms

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