House Ketch-Up – The Tomato Chutney

This week I was very inspired by Patrick Decker’s post on preserving cherries. Preserving foods not only allows you to enjoy out of season produce, it also makes you extremely resourceful. You can throw an interesting salad, main course or desert together with your signature ingredient being right at home, or in Patrick’s case, a very appealing cocktail.

After looking at his post on cherries, I looked over at my counter top and saw my stack of tomatoes. His conversation was a reminder of a practice followed by my grandmother. I remember how she used to preserve carrots, turnips and cauliflower with spices and vinegar, mangoes with mustard oil, fennel seeds , chili, dry spices and other souring agents but what to me was the strangest of all was goat pickle with mango powder, oil, cardamom and chili.

Growing up, there was always an assortment of pickles, after all, some pickles work best with certain dishes than others. Lentil curry and rice call for the sharp and aromatic mango pickle, if I was having meat curry and roti, what would work better than a salad like pickle of crunchy turnips and carrots? Pickles are very addictive and like many of you, I too, sneak out a few pieces to devour with or without food.

As my mind took a brief detour, I steered my attention back to the tomatoes. Right now tomatoes from your local market boast of ‘big flavor’. I decided to make my version of ketch-up or traditionally known as tomato chutney. Tomato chutney is sweet like Ketch-Up and can be used in place of it only the consistency is similar to that of a relish. This is another one of those accoutrements I like to cross borders with. Whilst it is great with onion bhajis (fritters) and samosas (Indian empanadas), it is equally tasty with French fries, spread on a burger bun or slathered over grilled meat.

Picture by Dan Peters

Tomato Chutney


  • 7 vine ripe tomatoes, skinned and finely diced
  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 20 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 dried red chili or half a teaspoon of crushed red chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 400 ml white wine vinegar
  • 200 grams white sugar
  • Black pepper and salt to taste


1)Heat the oil on high, Add the cumin seeds until they turn a couple of shades darker (17 seconds). Add the curry leaves and dried chili and once the popping dies down, Add the onions and garlic and sweat until translucent

2)Add the sugar and white wine vinegar and once the sugar is dissolved, add the tomatoes, reduce to a simmer. Cook for an hour until the moisture has evaporated and the tomatoes have a jammy consistency

3)Fill whilst hot into sterilized jars and close the lids. For further preservation, boil the jars for 10 minutes. This chutney keeps for 1 month in the refrigerator

Saira Malhotra, is of British –Indian descent and is a chef, food writer and cooking instructor based in New York City. Raised in Hounslow, U.K, or rather ‘Little India’, where the air is aromatic with roasted spices, little did Saira know these moments would follow her from being a student in France and Italy to residing in NYC with her husband and kids and parlay themselves unexpectedly in to a culinary career. She is a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York City. Come visit her at her food blog: Passport Pantry where she shares approachable and international recipes.

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