Tomato chutney - Second variation

On a recent trip to Orissa (see page 274), spent driving almost all day every day for nearly two weeks in the mountains in the southern part of the state, I had consistently good food, but unfortunately I learned very few of the classic Oriyan dishes. Ranjan, my driver and guide, was an incredible companion when it came to tracking down anything related to food and agriculture, even if it meant stopping the car (for the twentieth time in a morning) to walk across a field to identify a type of legume we hadn’t seen before, but he was at a complete loss when it came to describing how a particular Oriyan dish might be made. He’d always look at me as if to say, “It’s good, just eat it.”

The day we had this tomato chutney in the town of Jeypore, I liked it so much that I kept asking and asking until finally Ranjan went into the kitchen and requested that the cook come out. The cook explained and Ranjan translated, and after I at last had good notes and had said thank you to the cook, Ranjan again looked over at me and gave me the look: “It’s good, just eat it.”

The chutney has a coarsely pureed texture, like a cooked salsa, a great aroma from the curry leaves, a little sweetness from the simmered onions, and a fair amount of heat from the ginger and chiles. PHOTOGRAPH ON PAGE 291


  • Scant 2 tablespoons raw sesame, coconut, or vegetable oil
  • About 2 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 4 to 5 green or red cayenne chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger or ginger mashed to a paste
  • 3 to 3½ cups finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste


  • 1 tablespoon raw sesame, coconut, or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal, coarsely ground (optional)
  • 8 to 10 fresh or frozen curry leaves


  1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  2. When it is hot, add the onions, chiles, and ginger and stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions have softened a little.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes and salt and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are well softened.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and blend to a chunky puree, or transfer it to a large mortar and roughly grind it with the pestle.
  5. Turn out into a bowl.
  6. To temper the chutney, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil.
  7. When the oil is hot, add the black mustard seeds, urad dal, if using, and curry leaves and cook for 1 minute, then stir into the tomato mixture.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Serve as you would a tomato salsa: as a dip for crackers or flatbreads, or as a moistening condiment sauce to accompany rice or grilled meat (Cumin-Coriander Beef Patties, page 268, for example).


Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent


[[Indian recipes]] [[Dips]] [[Try]]

Tomato chutney - Second variation