Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Parsi tomato chutney

Here are two undisputed facts about my mother:

1. She makes amazing chutney.

2. She is utterly unsentimental. 

Whenever I go home to visit she is always offering to teach me how to make her signature chutneys (green papaya, mango) as "one day she will die and there won't be any more". Unlike my mother, I am sentimental and in deep and comfortable denial about anything ever happening to her, so I refuse to learn. Instead, I've taught myself to make my own. It's different enough to mum's to perpetuate the myth that she will always be around to make the others for me, and so good it passes muster with the great chutney-maker herself. So this year, I made her some. For Mother's Day. Even though she doesn't believe in it.

My friend Elizabeth put me on to this recipe, originally from Niloufer Ichaporia King's book My Bombay Kitchen.  As the name suggests, it's made primarily with tomatoes (easy to chop in large quantities), has a relatively short list of other supermarket-available ingredients, and really requires nothing more than throwing everything into one pot and letting it bubble away for a couple of hours. It's brilliant on a sandwich or served alongside a curry, particularly a hot one as the sweetness of the tomatoes balances it beautifully. It's so good slathered on cornbread, delicious dolloped on a cracker with cheese, and jarred up, makes a lovely present... for mothers who are mortal, and their daughters in denial.

Parsi tomato chutney
Adapted from My Bombay Kitchen by Niloufer Ichaporia King via The Traveler's Lunchbox

If you're American, and wondering what on earth sultanas are, I do believe you call them raisins.
3 pounds (1.5kg) ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup finely-julienned peeled ginger
1/2 cup thinly-sliced garlic (about one large head)
1 1/2 cups (375ml) cane, malt or cider vinegar
1/2 cup (75-150g) sultanas
2 cups (400g) raw sugar (or half brown and half white)
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons cayenne pepper or hot ground chile (or more to taste)
1 small cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt

Place all ingredients in a heavy non-reactive pot and bring to a boil, stirring so everything gets well combined. Lower the heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, til the chutney reaches the consistency of a soft jam. This will probably take at least 2 hours; you can speed things up by increasing the heat, but then you'll need to remember to stir much more frequently. Particularly when it starts getting thick, it can burn in a flash.

Adjust the balance of sugar, salt and vinegar while the chutney is still warm. Add more cayenne/chile if you'd like it hotter. Preferably let it still for a day to let the flavours meld and then check the seasonings again.

To bottle for shelf-storage, bring the chutney back to a rolling boil for 2 minutes, then spoon into sterilised jars. Otherwise, it will keep well in the fridge for a few weeks.



  1. What a lovely mother's day gift for a mother who doesn't believe in mother's day.

  2. What a lovely thing for Alice to say about her mother.