Raquel's husband, Matt, eats this chutney like it’s going out of style. Sometimes I have to remind him that it’s a condiment and not a side dish! He slathers it on omelets, eats it with steak and even with cheese and crackers. Lucky for Matt that Tomato Chutney can be made year round with either summer-ripe or winter-pale tomatoes. I will be forever indebted to my friend Durga’s mother, a neighbor in New Delhi, who introduced me to Tomato Chutney, and who is originally from Hyderabad, the pickling capital of the south. She got me hooked on it from a very young age.
Yield: Makes about 3 cups
¼ cup canola oil
36 curry leaves, roughly torn (optional)
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
12 dried red chiles
½ teaspoon turmeric
3½ pounds tomatoes (about 6 or 7), cored and roughly chopped
1 (4.4-ounce) tube double-concentrated tomato paste or 1 (9-ounce) can tomato paste
2 tablespoons sugar
1½ tablespoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Sambhaar or rasam powder, or ½ teaspoon curry powder
Heat the oil with the curry leaves (if using), mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and chiles in a large pot or skillet over medium-high heat until the cumin is browned, about 2 minutes. Add the turmeric and cook until the chiles darken, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and pressing the tomatoes against the sides of the pot to mash them if they are not breaking up on their own. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the chutney is thick and jammy (if canning, cook until the mixture is very thick), stirring often, an additional 20 to 35 minutes. If you are using hard winter tomatoes, the chutney may cook in less time, as there is less tomato juice to reduce. Taste for seasoning, transfer to a covered plastic container, and refrigerate for up to 1 week or ladle into dry and sterilized jars and can according to the manufacturer’s instructions.