Tomato chutney is a celebration of tomatoes and one of my favorite comfort foods. I love to make it with tomatoes fresh off the vine in spring. Tomato chutney can be used as a side, but I make a meal out of it by eating it with bread, either sandwich bread, dosa, or naan.
Tomato chutney was a special Sunday treat when I was at boarding school. One of my friends, whose parents taught at the school, would let our group of four friends know that mom was making some tomato chutney later. We would quietly sneak up to their place and waiting for us would be a loaf of bread and the spicy, tangy, tomatoey relish.
Sometimes the chutney had peas added to it, sometimes there was cilantro. It didn’t matter. It was always delicious!
Scooping giant blobs of the tomatoey goodness with slices of bread until the bowl was licked clean, was perfect Sunday heaven. A’s parents were surrogate parents to us and I don’t know how I would have made it through boarding school without them.
Her mom taught me how to make that tomato chutney when I was 13 and I have been making it ever since. Every time I’m in a nostalgic mood thinking about my boarding school friends, or when I want to impress friends with a simple but delicious hors d’oeuvre, tomato chutney is my go to dish.
I love to turn it into an Indian style bruschetta because the crunchy bread goes perfectly with the rich, jammy texture of the tomatoes.
- Tomato chutney comes together quickly, the only thing to watch for is to give the tomatoes enough time that they start to thicken and become jammy. You don’t want to overcook them, losing the “fresh” tomato flavor
- Try mixing up the spice profile, use curry leaves, coriander, or cumin seeds in place of mustard seeds, or add both. Mustard seeds have a sharper, spicier flavor
- You can also leave out the onion and make with cherry tomatoes, and cook them until they just pop.
How to Enjoy
Tomato chutney goes well with almost any bread. Is there anything more delicious than warm tomatoes soaking into white bread?
Tomato chutney is often eaten with dosa. It provides a similar flavor as rasam, but tomato chutney has more texture.
I almost always eat tomato chutney with ordinary white sandwich bread. It’s so good, it doesn’t require the bread to do much. It also goes well with naan. Any bread with some sponginess is perfect because it will soak up the sauce.
Fresh Tomato Chutney
- 1 Tbsp ghee or oil
- 1 ½ tsp cumin
- ½ medium onion finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- Salt to taste
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 lb whole tomatoes freshly chopped (about 4 large tomatoes)
- 1 green chili chopped
- ¼ tsp chili powder cayenne
- 2 Tbsp frozen peas optional
- Cilantro optional, to taste
- Heat the ghee or oil in a pan on medium high heat until it shimmers.
- Add cumin seeds, stir. Then add onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until onions are translucent and softened.
- Add turmeric, red chili powder. Stir. Add tomatoes and green chilies. Cook for 5-8 minutes until slightly reduced.
- Add the peas. Cook for one more minute.
- Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve.