Unfussy Fare

Spicy Tomato Chutney


The lazy days of summer may be turning chilly, and short. But there are still tomatoes, which means it is still summer, right? So there”s some good news. And here”s more: It takes just a few minutes of your time to put together a sparkling, spicy, tomato chutney that will be the envy of all your condiments. If you have a tomato glut at your house (or even if you don’t), this recipe is calling your name. There”s no use resisting.

Spicy tomato chutney is a crowd-pleaser. The sweet and sour do that dance they do with each other. Dress that up in  jewel-like red, and combine it with just enough heat from the pepper flakes, and you might just find yourself eating chutney by the spoonful. You can serve it on meat, spread it on grilled cheese, or have a dollop on your scrambled eggs. Truth be told, I did all those things in one 24-hour period. (Okay, okay. I ate a spoonful straight up, too.)  If you’re the kind of person who keeps nice little jars around (I’m not, but I’d like to be…), tomato chutney would make an excellent gift. I’m thinking it would be heaven on a cracker with cream cheese. I could go on and on. I guess I have gone on and on. Did I mention that I really love this spicy tomato chutney?

This recipe is pretty much foolproof. Take it from me, the fool. Just chop a few veggies and throw them in a pot with sugar, vinegar, and spices. Then simmer for a couple hours. All it needs from you is the occasional stir. How could you go wrong? Well, you might think you turned the burner off, only to find that you thought about turning it off, but in fact left it on (ahem). Not to worry. Just add some water to your now-very-thick chutney, and it still tastes incredible. Maybe even better, as some carmelizing might have gone on in this hypothetical over-cooking.  Not that I would know anything about that…

One note of warning to those of you who live in close quarters: When you simmer that much vinegar, it’s a strong-smelling proposition. Our house smelled like tomato chutney for hours, which was fine with me. But my five-year-old covered his nose and mouth in horror and shrieked that he could not live in this house. He’s a little dramatic sometimes. I tried to sell him the spicy chutney as “ketchup for grown-ups,” but he wouldn’t touch the stuff. The grown-ups, however, raved about it.


SPICY TOMATO CHUTNEY  - adapted from this recipe in Gourmet Magazine
makes 1 ½ cups

1 ½  pounds tomatoes, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
3/4 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
3/4 cup chopped green onions (just the green part, not the white)

In a medium saucepan bring vinegars to a boil with sugar, salt, mustard seeds, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, stirring occasionally. Turn heat down to a low simmer.

Stir in tomatoes, bell pepper, and green onion. Simmer mixture, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about two hours, or until thickened and reduced to about one and a half cups.

Cool chutney completely. Chutney keeps for two weeks, covered and chilled.


10 Responses to “Spicy Tomato Chutney”

  1. Pamela Perry says:

    Hi Gil,

    I made my own two summers ago when a glut of tomatoes came my way. I canned it. Actually I canned tomato chutney, tomato soup, tomato paste, whole tomatoes and tomatoes pureed. Like I said, a glut. I still have a few jars of the chutney down in the basement – thanks for reminding me.

    I won’t wait for my next glut to try yours. I know this sounds weird, but I liked it on really well toasted and well buttered sourdough bread; just a plop, right on top. Sweet, sour, salt and crunch, yumm!

  2. Pamela Perry says:

    BTW, mine was probably adapted from a recipe by Lisa Mae. Most of mine are.

  3. Gillian says:

    Chutney on toasted buttered sourdough sounds like perfection to me. We had grilled cheese with sharp cheddar and chutney on sourdough last night and it was goooood. Than again, you could serve me earthworms on toasted, buttered sourdough.

    I’ve never had Lisa Mae’s tomato chutney, but I do make her red onion marmalade. Also killer, and not so different from this, besides being onions instead of tomatoes.

  4. Lisa Belt says:

    N’kay. I’m all done gloating to Cliff that I got 2 (somewhat undeserved, but whatever) mentions in the comments section. (ps: We pored over the post for a mention in the body of it, and will, apparently have to live with being referred to as “the grown-ups.”. Anyway, that’s my meat in the last photo, and the chutney was fabulous.

  5. Gillian says:

    Thanks, grown-up, for arranging your dinner so nicely on the plate for that picture.

    You also show up in the nectarine upside-down cake comments, in the form of your mom recalling the big first-grade first-day drop off for the two of us. Your cooking skills and food-styling panache weren’t mentioned there. But I bet the peanut-butter on your sandwich was spread all the way to the edge of the bread, if you had anything to say about it.

  6. Derek Olso says:

    Finally some meat. Naturally there’s veggir suace with you. You must be like my sister.

  7. Kate Carroll says:

    Screw the tomato thingy…I want to talk about the meat. Pork tenderloin? Yummy chicken breast? What was it, because it looked so darned good it almost made me want to try the ketchup too…

  8. RevJen says:

    Would this freeze well?

  9. Gillian says:

    Hi RevJen: I don’t see why it wouldn’t freeze well, but I’ve never tried it. Just leave a little room in the jar for expansion, right?

  10. Gillian says:

    Hey Kate: Pork tenderloin, just patted dry, rubbed with olive oil, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. We also took the skinny tail end of the meat and folded it towards the fat end, holding it in place with toothpicks (in an effort to try to avoid uneven cooking).

Leave a Reply