Tomato Chutney With Home-grown Tomatoes

It’s mid-May and like every year it’s the end of the season for my home-grown tomatoes. And how can I end the season without tomato tok? Tok or ambol is a sweet and sour chutney made of acidic fruits. Mangoes, Indian olives, roselle, jujube berries, elephant apples, jamun, and of course tomatoes are a favourite… depending on the season.
The other evening this was one of the dishes on my table. My mother who is recovering from a cataract operation and my sisters/nieces/nephew came over. I made the usual curries that we are all so fond of but this chutney was special as I used the second last batch from my plants. The last batch will finish in a week’s time. We have had copious amounts of rain, wind and some hail. So some of these lovelies look a little scarred.

15 medium tomatoes, blanched, peeled, eyes removed and roughly chopped
2-3 Indian bay leaves/tejpatta
2 dried red chillies, broken into 3-4 bits
1/2 tsp coarsely ground chilli powder (I used bird’s eye chillies that I dried at home)
10 dates, seeds removed and coarsely chopped
10-12 cashew nuts broken into uneven bits
1/2 tsp panch puran ( a mix of five spices used in tempering)
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 quarter tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp tamarind paste from soaked tamarind
2 tbs mustard oil

Heat the mustard oil in a pan. When it comes to smoking point add the panch puran. As soon as the spices sputter, throw in the chilli bits and the bay leaves.
Add the rest of the spices and immediately sprinkle some water so that the spices do not burn.
Add the tomatoes and cook till the liquid is somewhat reduced.

Add the dates and the cashew nuts. Season the chutney with a touch of salt.
Cook till the chutney is done and add the sugar. I used very little sugar but it was enough as the dates were sweet.
Lastly, add the tamarind paste. Give it a good stir and remove the pan from the flame. The consistency of this chutney is like a thick sauce.
Adding tamarind paste gives the chutney more zing. Sometimes I also use soaked dried roselle to tok.

Along with this chutney, these were the other dishes on my table. My nieces love bread so I baked this simple bread topped with sesame seeds. The rest of us had rice with: fish curry with poppy seed paste, chicken curry with lemon grass and coconut milk, fried pork, arhar dal with chunks of teasel gourd, aloo sabji, and tok. The heliconias/lobster claws are from my garden. The plant was a gift from a friend from Bangalore. Padma Rao blogs at Garden Tropics.

For the bread lovers I also made a bowl of tzatziki. For dessert it was a simple chocolate cake and mango trifle.:)

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