Chutney Chow-down - Tomato Thokku
Continuing on our Chutney Chow-down trail, we're cooking up a variant of the delightful Tomato Thokku from Southern India. Part pickle, part chutney, this tangy concoction stays well in a bottle or jar for 2-3 days without refrigeration, so it's perfect to pack up for a long road trip. Use it to enliven a routine bread-butter sandwich, add some zip to your bagel that's smeared with humdrum cream cheese or as a side with puris or paranthas. It can even be mixed into plain steamed rice (along with a glob of ghee) for an impromptu tomato-rice. As with any pickle or chutney, the spices are key to the lip-smacking taste, and here it is fenugreek powder that delivers complex undertones to the sweet and sour notes of the tomato.
(Makes about 1 Cup)
- Soak the red chillies and tamarind in half a cup or less of hot water. Use less water to reduce the total cooking time. Roast the dals/spices together on a hot tava/skillet until lightly browned. Cool and grind them to a powder.
- Once the soaked chillies and tamarind are soft, remove the chillies, and extract the tamarind pulp. Purée the tomatoes and chillies in a blender. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed and high-sided saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Sprinkle in the asafoetida, then add curry leaves. After a few seconds, add the turmeric powder and then pour in the tomato-chilli mixture and the tamarind. Cook for a while, stirring occasionally, keeping the pan partially covered if it is splattering too much. Once it reduces to a thick paste, add the powdered spices. Cook, stirring often for 2-3 minutes. Cool and store in a clean glass jar. Refrigerate and use over a week.