This takes a little longer to make than your average chutney, but well worth the effort. Double cooking the chutney (once before pureeing, and once after) makes the onion, garlic and tomatoes extra flavorful. I like to add sambar powder to my tomato chutney. Sambar powder is a roasted, powdered blend of spices from south India containing red chilies, coriander seeds, turmeric, lentils and fenugreek. You could leave out the sambar powder if you wish or use only turmeric and chili powder instead.
The recipe below is my ‘special’ version. For a simpler, ’everyday’ version of this tomato chutney, I simply saute the onions, garlic and tomatoes, blend in a blender, temper some black mustard and cumin, add the pureed chutney and cook again. No matter which version I am making, I always twice cook the chutney.
This chutney will freeze well, so if you have a bumper crop of tomatoes this summer, and dont know what to do with them, this is a great option for you. I put the chutney into ice cube trays and place in the freezer. Once they are frozen, I remove the cubes from the tray, put them in a zip lock bag and return to the freezer. This way, you can defrost even tiny quantities of chutney.
Serving tomato chutney with idlis or dosas is traditional. Here, I serve the chutney with pita bread.
Twice Cooked Tomato Chutney with Cumin and Fennel: Recipe
makes about 2 cups
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon each cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black mustard seeds, urad dal (black gram)
1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 dried red chili, optional
1/2 cup curry leaves loosely packed
1 large onion (about 2 cups when diced)
8 pods garlic, peeled
6-8 (about 1 lb) ripe tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon sambar powder
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon each cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black mustard seeds, urad dal
a few curry leaves
Heat oil in a large wok. Add cumin, fennel, black mustard and urad dal. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add fenugreek seeds, red chili if using, and curry leaves. Cook for about 30 seconds. Then add chopped onion and garlic. Cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and cook on medium for about 15 minutes or till the tomatoes are completely soft.
Cool the chutney a little and then puree in a blender, along with sambar powder and 1/2 cup water till smooth. (Make sure to vent the blender lid slightly when blending hot stuff).
Wipe the wok, and heat oil for tempering. Add all tempering ingredients. When the mustard seeds splutter, reduce heat and carefully pour the blended chutney into the wok. Be very careful, the chutney may bubble and splatter. Add salt. Cover the wok and cook the chutney on medium-low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with idli, dosa or pita bread.