Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tomato Chutney (Sweet)

I never cease to be amazed at the way eating traditions differ so widely among ethnic groups subsisting on the same culinary practices. For example, most non-bengalis like to have their meal with the accompaniment of Achaar (pickles) and Chutney (relish), while Bongs like to have chutney at the end of the meal with Papad (poppadoms) followed by sweets. In fact, when we used to live in Central Kolkata during my childhood we had very few Bengali aquaintances and when once in the bluest of the blue moons we had occassion to visit a Bengali friend of Papa's or my aunts' or attended a wedding, we used to be highly confused with the practice of serving the chutney at the end, where we didn't know what to do with it - our usual practice being to mix it with rice or dip the puris/kachoris in it. Our bengali hosts in turn would be not just a little puzzled at our (to them) unusual request of asking for the chutney in the middle of the meal. When we shifted to South Kolkata the cirlcle of our Bengali friends grew and gradually our tastebuds were also bongified, so much so that now I and my Mom are suckers for bangali ranna - Chaatni being our especial favourite.

This is Sunny's favourite chutney, that I learned to make from his shejo mashi and have been making with great success for the past couple of weeks. For those who like to end their meal on a sweet note, yet would be happy to do without the cloying sweetness of the usual desserts, its the perfect denouement to any meal - with the perfect tang of tomatoes coupled with the savoury depth of ginger and the sweet-sourness of raisins. I'm told its good for the digestion too, though I'm yet to do my research on that. The best thing is that it can be made in bulk and stored upto a week in the fridge. Next time I'm considering adding a teaspoon or a half of chaat-masala to give it that slight chatpata edginess of pickles. Mmmmmmm..... drool!


Tomatoes (Plum/Roma) - 1-1/2 kgs.

Fresh Ginger - 1" piece, grated
Green chillies - 5 sliced finely
Sugar/Jaggery - 500 gms. + more to taste
Raisins - 3/4th cup, soaked
Amaavat/Aamshotto (Preserved Mango Relish) - 1 stick / 1 heaped tablespoon
Salt - scant 1/4th tsp.
Mustard seeds - scant 1 tsp.
Vegetable oil - 1/2 tablespoon.


1. Wash and chop the tomatoes into medium dices.
2. Dice the amaavat into 1/2" squares.
3. Heat oil in a wok/heavy bottomed pan.
4. Once smoking hot, add the mustard seeds and once they stop spluttering add the tomatoes.
5. Stir thouroughly and add the salt
6. Mix to combine, lower the flame, cover and simmer for 7-8 minutes.
7. Remove cover, add the raisins, ginger, chillies and sugar/jaggery and mix thoroughly.
8. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook stirring frequently (to prevent the mix from sticking to the bottom of the pan) till it reaches a very thick viscous consistency.
9. Check for sweetness, add more sugar/jaggery if desired and cook further till dissolved properly.
10. Remove from flame, immediately add in the amaavat and mix to combine.
11. Let cool, and then ideally chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours. - best chilled overnight for the flavours to meld.
12. Serve as accompaniment or on its own as a dessert to a traditional Indian meal.

Slurp! Drool! Lick! :D

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