This simple but superb Tomato Chutney is one I learned from my Tamil brother-in-law, Sampath, during his visits to our home in Bombay. It was a recipe he had learned from his mother -- a simple recipe you could rustle up in a hurry to eat with a dosa or with curd rice (yogurt rice).
Sampath made this tomato chutney so well, I can remember how it tasted even now, so many years after. I now often make it in my kitchen here in the United States and I had shared the recipe with you in the fledgling days of this blog over a decade ago. It's gotten buried in the archives since, so I am bringing it back to the front for those of you who have not seen it before.
My version is just very slightly different from Sampath's. I break down the tomatoes a bit in the food processor for a more even consistency to the chutney--he chopped them roughly. You can go with either option but I find that breaking down the tomatoes without pureeing them retains some of the wonderful texture of this chutney but also gives it more of a chutney-like consistency.
With tomatoes in season, there's no better time to try making this amazing tomato chutney. If you do, I'd love to know.
Why you'll love this tomato chutney
- It's simple. There's very little prep involved and the chutney, which needs to be cooked, goes from scratch to done in about 30 minutes with very little hands-on time needed.
- It's extremely versatile. In Tamil Nadu you'd eat this tomato chutney with dosa or idli or adai or curd rice. But you don't have to limit yourself to south Indian dishes. Eat it with an aloo paratha or use it in sandwiches, burgers, or as a side for a vegan steak. It's delicious with nearly anything.
- It's a great use for those seasonal tomatoes. With tomato season on, it's nice to have another recipe where the tomato is a starring act rather than a supporting one, as it often is in recipes.
- It's delicious. Sweet, salty, tangy, spicy. There's something here for every tastebud and your whole mouth will thank you for it.
- Tomatoes. Any kind are fine, but try to use tomatoes that have a fairly thin skin and ones that are juicy.
- Coconut oil
- Mustard seeds. Always use black mustard seeds in Indian cooking.
- Curry leaves. A couple of sprigs add delicious flavor to this tomato chutney. You can chop the curry leaves if they are especially large or leave them whole.
- Urad dal (black gram dal). This adds a nice crunch to the chutney.
- Peanuts. Sampath did not add peanuts to his tomato chutney, but the flavor of peanuts with the sweet, tangy tomatoes is amazing. I love them in here but you can leave them out, especially if you are nut-free. You will need to pound or process the peanuts until they are broken into smaller pieces.
- Curry powder (can use Sambar Powder). Sambar powder would traditionally be used in this chutney, but if you have a good curry powder on hand you can use that instead as the flavors should be close to that of a sambar powder, as they are in my homemade version linked here.
- Turmeric. For color and health.
- Paprika. Optional, but adds amazing color.
- Cayenne. The traditional version of this chutney can be extremely spicy. I make it only moderately so with a teaspoon of cayenne but even that can be a lot for some, so skip the cayenne if you want to, especially if your curry powder or sambar powder is already spicy. You can also just use the paprika, which will add color without the heat.
- Jaggery. Jaggery is an unrefined Indian cane sugar you can easily find online and at Indian stores. But if you don't have this, the flavor of Mexican piloncillo or coconut sugar will work really well.
How to make tomato chutney
Storage and freezing instructions
This chutney will keep well for a week in the refrigerator. For longer storage freeze in a freezer-safe container and thaw completely before using.
What to eat with the tomato chutney
- The tomato chutney is delicious with a brown rice dosa or a sorghum/jowar dosa or an adai. Or eat it with uthappam or idli. Curd rice is especially great with tomato chutney. You can find my vegan curd rice recipe here.
- You don't have to limit yourself to south Indian recipes. Eat this with aloo paratha or a vegan naan. Or as a condiment in veggie burgers and sandwiches.
- 7 medium tomatoes (roughly chopped)
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoon urad dal (black gram dal)
- 2 shallots (or red onions, finely diced)
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 2 tablespoon peanuts (coarsely pounded in a mortar or pestle or food processor. Don't make this a fine powder--you want some larger pieces for texture. Skip peanuts if nut-free.)
- 2 heaping tsp curry powder (or sambar powder. You might need more or less depending on the brand or recipe you use. Taste and add more if needed)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
- 1 teaspoon cayenne (optional, or use less for less heat)
- 1 teaspoon paprika (optional, for color)
- 1 tablespoon jaggery (can use piloncillo or brown sugar or coconut sugar)
- Salt to taste
- In a food processor, process the tomatoes until just roughly broken down. You don't want a puree but you don't want very large pieces of tomato in there either. You can skip this and just chop the potatoes fine if you'd rather.
- Heat the oil in a nonstick saucepan.
- Add the mustard seeds. When they sputter add the curry leaves, peanuts and urad dal. Stir-fry for a minute until the dal begins to turn a light gold.
- Add the shallots and stir-fry until shallots begin to brown.
- Add the tomatoes, curry powder or sambar powder, turmeric, cayenne and paprika, if using. Stir in the jaggery and add salt to taste.
- Let the tomatoes cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the juices dry up. You will know the chutney is done when the tomatoes begin to caramelize and stick a little to the pan. Make sure you stir frequently so nothing burns.
- Turn off the heat. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Try and use juicy tomatoes with thin skins in this recipe for best results.
- You can puree the tomatoes or chop them instead into small pieces for a differently textured chutney. Be sure to let the visible moisture evaporate.
- If you don't have curry leaves, use 2 tablespoon cilantro instead. Add it to the pan at the same time as you would curry leaves.